Every once in a while, it is important to take a back seat to the process of prepping and do a little planning. I say this because things change and life evolves, requiring a re-examination of the who, what, and why of prepping. Let’s face it. You probably remember why you started to set food, water, and supplies aside, and why you began to bone up on off-grid skills. But in the flurry of preparedness activities, have you ever taken a look at your original plan and made circumstantial changes?
If you are saying “what plan”, join the crowd!
Today I am going to challenge all preppers, new or experienced, to take and hour or so to think about “the plan”. I will do this by asking a few questions.
An Introduction to the Who, What, and Why of Prepping
We all know about the successful reporter’s rule of thumb: determine the who what where and how for every story. Let us take the “where” out of the equation and begin with the who, what and why of prepping.
1. Who Should Prep?
There is only one right answer: Everyone!
The differentiator is the extent of one person’s preps over those of another person. Person A may define being prepared as having a three day plan to soldier through a winter storm when the power is out. (Of course I will try to encourage that person to prep for a week or two at a minimum, but ultimately, three days is considered a decent starting point.)
On the other hand, Person B may not consider himself adequately prepped until he has the supplies, tools, and skills to manage for a year or more on his own.
It all gets down to a matter of perspective. Like a broken record I will say it again; there is no right and no wrong when it comes to preparedness. If you prepare enough to ally your fear of a disruptive event, you will have done enough.
2. What is Prepping?
Let us get this one out of the way quickly as well. Prepping is being able to survive a disruptive event if not in comfort, then at least with a minimum amount of stress. It also means having the ability to survive on your help without relying on the assistance of the government or a trip to Camp FEMA.
3. Who Are You Prepping For?
Now we start to get into the nitty-gritty of your plan. It is important to understand who you are prepping for. Is it just yourself and your partner (if you have one), or an extended family? Are there infants or toddlers involved? What about physically challenged, or elderly members of your family. Don’t forget about the family dog or cat, and your farm animals.
As you prepare a strategy to meet your prepping goals, things can get out of hand quickly. It takes money to prep so even though you may want to take care of everyone, doing so can put a huge strain on the family budget. If you are lucky enough to have family members who are on board with prepping, you can ask them to participate, even if all that means is they clean and repurpose soda bottles so they can be filled with tap water and stored for an emergency.
At the end of the day, though, you must be realistic and remember that having the time and resources to live your life in the here and now is important too. Go slowly as you expand your preps to include others. Do not cannibalize your own life for the sake of something that may or may not happen.
4. What Are You Preparing For?
Are periodic power outages your concern, or is it the the big earthquake that is past due along the Cascadia Fault? Is it a hurricane or is it global economic collapse? If you are a prepper newbie, I tend to recommend that you initially focus on disruptive events that are geographically specific to where you live.
If you are new to an area and even if you are not, your county will have an emergency services department with plenty of information describing the types of disasters and freaks of mother nature that can occur in your community. Take advantage of this information. You can start with a Google search for “Emergency Services in Name Your County and State”, substituting your own location, of course.
5. Where Do I Start?
Getting started when you are at prepping ground zero can be overwhelming. I get that. That being said, the fact you are reading this article is a good start. Something that has been useful to many readers is working their way through my 12 Months of Prepping Series. Although written a number of years ago, you will find the month by month prepping a activities still apply, are easy to follow and, for the most part, budget friendly.
Beyond that, get your water, food and first aid supplies in order, as well as a stash of cash for those times when the ATM is not working. Here is some suggested reading:
Survival Basics: Water and Water Storage
20 Items to Kick Start Your Food Storage Plan
14 Common Food Storage Mistakes and Goofs
20 Steps: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Prepper
How to Build Your Own Perfect Bug Out Bag
How to Create an Emergency Ammo Can First Aid Kit
Survival Basics from Backdoor Survival
6. How Long Do You Want Your Preps to Last?
This is another reality check. Although it would be nice to say “forever”, unless you have a self-sufficient farm and everything that goes along with it, a forever goal is not realistic.
Why not start with a week, then expand to a month? After you have met that goal,, decide whether you would prefer to prep for more people, or perhaps to extend the period to three months or a year. Have a discussion with yourself and decide what is right for you, your temperament, and your feelings about the likelihood of a major disruptive event. occurring in the near future.
The Final Word
It is easy to say “plan first, prepare second”, but even planning can be overwhelming. I know that when I first started to prep, I armed myself with a 20 page checklist to use to begin the planning process. After an hour, I set it aside and chartered my own course. Thus was the beginning of Backdoor Survival and my own common sense approach to preparedness.
Further that point, if my internal radar is correct, an entirely new crop of preppers has recently joined the Backdoor Survival family. I know this because I read all of the comments both here and on Facebook. There are a lot of newbies seeking answers that are straightforward easy to incorporate into their daily lives. Needless to say, I am thrilled.
As a call to action, it is time to revisit the basics. The moment is now.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Below you will find links to the items related to fire-making skills plus some other perennial personal and reader favorites.
Survivor Outdoor Fixed Blade Knife with Fire Starter: This knife has measures 7 inch long overall, has a full-tang stainless steel blade, is equipped with thick green cord-wrap handle, and has a nylon sheath plus a magnesium-alloy fire starter. How does it work? This is not a Kershaw, Gerber or other high quality blade. On the other hand, the fire starter works great (better than great) and is worth the price which is currently about $8.
Light My Fire Swedish FireSteel: This “Scout” is the one I own. Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version and is my personal favorite.
Magnesium Flint Firesteel Fire Steel Starter: This magnesium flint stone fire starter is about two bucks with free shipping. How to use it:
1. Place the flint on ground upwardly, and put the scraper vertically to the flint, then scrape some magnesium powder on inflammable material like paper or branch
2. Place the flint on ground at about 45° and 2.5 cm from the magnesium powder scraped just now, then scrape the flint fast to produce spark so as to light up the inflammable material
Magnesium Fire Starter: This Campers’ Magnesium Emergency Fire Starter is about $4.
Zippo Street Chrome Pocket Lighter: Zippo has been creating virtually indestructible, windproof refillable lighters for more than 75 years. The Zippo Street Chrome pocket lighter is no exception. This lighter features a classic textured chrome finish and carries the same lifetime guarantee–to either work or be fixed by Zippo free of charge–for life. All wearable parts including flints and wicks are replaceable. Every prepper should own at least one Zippo! Learn more about Zippos in the article What You Need to Know About Zippos and Lighter Fuel.
Diamond GreenLight Kitchen Matches – 3 Pack (Strike anywhere): Our local supermarket in Friday Harbor told us that they do not stock the strike-anywhere matches because they self-combust. Urban legend or CYA? Who knows. Amazon sells them.
100 BIC-style Lighters Disposable Classic Lighter: Running about 16 cents each and free shipping, these are great to have on hand for both survival and barter use. Want fewer than 100. You can also get a pack of 50, currently priced at $11.
Coghlans Waterproof Matches 10-pack: There are 10 boxes of 40 matches each for about $5. That is a good deal for 400 waterproof matches.
2 Pack Survival Kit Can Opener, Military, P-51 Model: These can openers makes great addition to any survival, fishing, hiking, or camping pack. They are lightweight and robust and they just work.
Paracord Planet Mil-Spec Commercial Grade 550lb Type III Nylon Paracord: This makes a great clothesline! An ideal all-around utility cord in the field, paracord is tough and long lasting. It is made from 550-pound test nylon and features a seven-strand core for maximum strength. Also, it is manufactured in the United States. Note that some colors may be more expensive than others. Need ideas? See 44 Really Cool Uses of Paracord for Survival.
12 Color Pack Bandana – Assorted Colors: This is the #1 seller in the bandana category. As of this writing, the price is $9 for the entire dozen. I love these bandanas and you will often see me wearing them in photos here on the website. Be sure to read How to Use a Bandana to Save the Day.
Tac Force TF-705BK Tactical Assisted Opening Folding Knife 4.5-Inch Closed: FAVORITE! This is a great knife that is currently priced at under $9.00 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 safe a couple of bucks.
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A frequent question I get on Backdoor Survival has to do with healthcare matters when there is no doctor around. This is the definite source of survival medical information for all Prepper’s and is my go-to bible for survival medicine.