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10 Simple Strategies for Becoming A Prepper

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
10 Simple Strategies for Becoming A Prepper

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No one really knows how many preppers exist in the world but it is safe to say that there are three to four million in the United States alone.  Even though at first blush this sounds like a huge segment of the population, in round numbers that are still only slightly more than 1% of the total US populace.  When you think about it, that is pretty shocking.

Who is going to take care of the remaining 99% percent of the population when a major disruptive event occurs?  My guess is that most folks believe that the government will step in.  Yeah right.  Just like they did with Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

10 Simple Strategies for Becoming a Prepper - Backdoor Survival

The truth is that the US Government is ill-equipped to take on a massive rescue operation.  Plus, if the disruptive event is an economic collapse, you can bet that corporations will be bailed out long before the populace.  It happened in 2008 and 2009, and many of us have the retirement account statements to prove it.

Four Major Types of Preppers

From what I can ascertain, the mix of readers on prepper-centric websites fall into four major camps.

First, is the Prepper Wannabe.  This is someone who wants to embrace preparedness but does not know where to start.  He or she may also feel they do not have adequate financial resources to prep.

Second, comes the Prepper Newbie.  This prepper has started to prepare but needs help in sorting through an overwhelming amount of advice and preparedness strategies both online and off. Whether it is simply handholding or education, the Prepper Newbies have started their journey but continue to seek knowledge and positive reinforcement to ensure they are on the right path.

Third comes the Dedicated Prepper; someone who has embraced the preparedness lifestyle with gusto.  These preppers have supplies, knowledge, and skills but are seeking to fine-tune their preps with advanced strategies for survival healthcare, living off-grid, and coping with civil unrest.  They actively share their own personal experiences with others and offer tips to help other prepper-types learn and grow.  I consider myself to be a Dedicated Prepper.

Fourth and last comes the Diehard Prepper.  This prepper is planning for a major apocalypse and devotes considerable time and energy to ensure that he or she will prevail.  The Diehard Prepper may have a well-stocked bug out retreat where they can live out their days if the end of the world should come.  They may also be highly secretive and unwilling to share what they have and what they know for OPSEC reasons.

Being a Diehard Prepper has been somewhat glamorized by the entertainment media.  This serves to disillusion and discourages those who are unable to create this type of alternative life for themselves.

I do not mean to imply that any stage of prepping is a bad thing.  Not at all.  Rather, it is our duty to exercise our own free will to make preparedness decisions that bring sense to our unique situations.  There is no such thing as the one-size-fits-all Prepper.

Okay, so we now know that there are at least four types of Preppers. There are undoubtedly more, but for the sake of simplicity, let us leave it at that.  This brings me to the topic for today; 10 simple strategies for becoming a prepper.

10 Simple Strategies for Becoming a Prepper

1.  Do your own research

Everyone is different.  You live in different geographical locations, have different financial considerations, and have different needs.  In order to succeed as a prepper, you need to do what is right for you and not the guy down the street.  Do your own research and come to decisions that are right for you and you alone.

2.  Create an emergency contact list

When a natural disaster of other disruptive event occurs, you want to act on instinct.  Alas, human nature may set you on a tailspin instead.

Well in advance, prepare a list of emergency contacts for police, fire, doctors, hospitals, and, of course, family members and close friends.  Be sure to include telephone numbers, cell phone numbers, and email addresses.  There is no guarantee that any one method will work if the emergency is dire.

3.  Stockpile as much water as you can and learn to purify the rest

Store as much water as you can.  Look for hidden locations in your home where you can store either purchased water or water you have bottled yourself using plastic soda or juice jugs, Water Bricks, or something else.  Beyond that, find other sources of water that you can use in an emergency and learn how to safely filter and purify raw water for drinking purposes.

4.  Purchase beans and rice and learn how to cook them

Beans and rice are chock-full of  calories and, in the case of beans, extremely nutritious.  Stock up on dried beans and rice then learn how to cook them off grid, and outdoors over an open fire or rocket stove.  For very little money and with very little skill, you will keep hungry bellies full when there is no other food to be had.

5.  Work toward optimal physical fitness

Exercise regularly and stay in shape.  This does not mean that you have to be thin.  Rather, build up your stamina and strength so that you can perform manual labor for extended periods.

Hike, power walk, lift weights, bicycle; pick something and stick with it so that you reduce body fat and build up muscle endurance and physical tolerance.

6.  Develop a community of like-minded preppers

Regardless of where you live or your family situation, become a community with others.  Even if your community consists of only two or three persons, these few people will serve as your support group and sounding board for the tactical decisions you will make when things get tough.  In addition, you need at least one other person to watch your back as you will watch theirs.

Additional Reading:  5 Important Considerations When Forming a Prepper Community

7.  Create a survival library

No one can remember every single detail about every single subject.  As practiced and skilled as you may be, there will always be a situation where you either forgot or just plain do not know.  Build up a survival library.  Binders full of paper are good but so are electronic readers and tablets that can easily be powered using inexpensive solar chargers.

8.  Put together a basic bug out bag

Bugging in during a disruptive event is always preferable to bugging out.  That said, if your home is no longer safe, you may be required to bug out.  This does not mean that you will have to flee to the woods.  Bugging out may as simple as retreating to a friend or relative’s home or as complicated as hiking in a storm to the nearest shelter twenty miles a way.  Regardless of where you bug out to, you are going to need some basics to help you get by.

A basic bug out bag that is light enough to carry when fully loaded, is something every member of the family should possess.

9.  Practice an evacuation plan

Related to #8, if your home is no longer safe to live in for whatever reason, plan to leave.  Map out an evacuation route in advance.  Determine two or three different ways to physically exit your home and then two or three ways to find your way out of the immediate area.  At least one of the routes should avoid major streets and arterial locations.

Once you develop an evacuation plan, practice by traveling each route at least once annually.

10. Learn the basics of first aid and survival medicine

Put together a comprehensive first aid kit that includes trauma supplies as well as protection gear to keep you safe in the sick room.  Acquire extra prescription medications as well as antibiotics and essential oils.  Learn about herbal medicine and keep a good book on survival medicine on hand as a reference.

The Final Word

Each of these strategies has been listed with an all too brief explanation.  The reality is that each warrants a full blown dialog as to why it is important as well as steps to put the strategy into action.  You can probably guess where this is going.

I have created a roadmap for going forward as I develop each topic in detail over the next few months.  As with the Twelve Months of Prepping Series, I will create actionable steps that you can take to become a prepper of the highest order while doing so with grace, optimism, and hope.

We travel this journey together.  Let us share the burden and learn from each other.  Together, we can become a community.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me 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.

Bargain Bin:  Below you will find the items related to today’s article.

WaterBrick Water Storage Containers:  I have not tried these myself but I do know that many Backdoor Survival readers prefer these water bricks to 55-gallon water barrels.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.

Kindle Fire HD, 7″ HD Display:  These days and at this price, there is no reason not to pick up an eBook reader or tablet.   When a couple with an inexpensive solar charge, this is a wise investment.

SunJack Portable Solar Charger:  SunJack® helps mobile users stay charged on the go anywhere the sun shines. The SunJack® is able to fully charge its internal battery pack in about 5 hours of direct sunlight, or directly power any USB device. When the sun isn’t shining, users can still energize their devices from the powerful SunJack® battery, which holds enough charge to power up to 4 iPhones.

SunJack 8000mAh UltraSlim Battery:  Super compact portable battery that has enough power for 4+ full iPhone charges at wall-outlet charging speeds. Compatible with all phones, tablets, and other USB devices.

Disposable Protective Coveralls for the Sickroom: There are plenty to choose from.  I purchased these DuPont White Tyvek Disposable Coveralls With Hood in a medium and it fit me okay with a bit of excess room left over.  Shelly needs a large, definitely.

Spark Naturals Essential Oils:  It is no secret that I prefer essential oils from Spark Naturals.  They are well priced and of the highest therapeutic quality.  You enjoy an additional 10% off all items, including sale items, when using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.  In addition, SN announces a new “Item of the Week” every Monday.

The Survival Medicine Handbook:  This a guide for those who want to be medically prepared for any disaster where help is NOT on the way.  It is written from the non-medical professional and assumes that no hospital or doctor is available in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.  It covers skills such as performing a physical exam, transporting the injured patient, and even how to suture a wound. This medical reference belongs in every survival library.

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

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20 Responses to “10 Simple Strategies for Becoming A Prepper”

  1. The comment about bugging out to someone else’s house was spot on. Every bug out situation does not require squaring one’s shoulders and striding forth into the wilderness, there to survive for a dozen years on fish and acorns.

    A family member had to bug out a few years ago on very short notice due to a forest fire on the outskirts of Pocatello. Destination: parents’s house on the other side of Pocatello.

    Our designated bug out location if we get hit with a hurricane (our house is likely to be rubble) is a friend’s high rise condo several miles away. We’ll shelter in the stair well and elevator lobby if need be, then make our way back to whatever is left of home when road clearance permits.

    That is why it is so important to think through one’s own situation before making a lot of preps: what would work for one would be totally inappropriate for someone else.

  2. You may be missing the largest segment – folks who have common sense to “be prepared” but do not identify as “prepper”. Small farmers, Folks that live in truly rural areas. Anyone that can do for themselves, and not have to run to the public servants for every little thing – which is a full 75% of the population.
    I live in a rural area, with a major metropolitan just over an hour away. Many of my neighbors are commuters into the city. But half of the county (population 60K) real estate is taken up with small farms.
    Not long ago, we had an unusual weather pattern that dumped feet of snow (where we usually get inches) and power was out to half of the homes in the region. The local stores were cleaned out, and major interstate out of commission so they were not being restocked.
    I volunteer a great deal with my county agencies, and was asked to come in to the E-911 center to help field non-emergency calls.
    When it was all said and done, there were only a dozen “panic” calls but after chatting them down off of their panic and asking about what they truly had in their homes that they could get by with we ended up having 2 homes that actually, truly needed assistance (one was out of medication and the other was out of food).

  3. Dry beans have 1.4 calories per gram, animal fat has 9 calories per gram. There being 454 grams per pound, a pound of animal fat contains 4000 calories, a pound of beans contains 635 calories. @ 2000 calories a day you would have to eat 3# of dry beans a day, or you could eat less than a pound of pemmican, dried fish, or any other dried meat containing good amount of fat per day. 3 # of dry bean & rice per day is a recipe for gastric distress.

    • Animal fat is a rich source of energy for sure. Keeping fat from going rancid is a storage issue though. Meat has less calories than fat. Voyagers ate pemmican for the fat and the calories the fat contained. I think a diet that has some of all of these foods would be the one I would want. There are stories of people who starved even though they had plenty of food, but it was all the same. Imagine digging into a bag of food that you cooked into the same gruel for every meal. How special. Now imagine pulling out that ziplock bag marked “Tuesday”. Taco Tuesday! One of your favorites. Saturday Stew. Fish Friday. Get the picture? I think a good cook would be worth his/her weight in animal fat. The meals may not max out the calorie per gram meter, but getting a good tasting meal would be good for morale as well as calories.

    • That is pretty much all you need to do. Click the link, enter the site, and your vote is automatically recorded. Thanks a bunch and Happy New Year!

  4. We fall into the Dedicated Prepper range, in part because as Gaye suggests, we did # 1): our own research and thinking.

    Having been there myself, I am inclined to think that too few of us start out with enough of that. I certainly didn’t, and that led me to put too many resources into the right areas and too few into other right areas for the stage I was in. Better to spread out the preps: prepare for three days with water, food, the means to heat it, a small first aid kit, light, a radio, then three weeks, then whatever additional length of time you think appropriate for your situation.

    Then improve each category as seems appropriate, because prepping for six months is mostly a matter of prepping for a week long disaster, but with more of the same stuff. Prepping for a major hurricane or earthquake probably doesn’t require a six month plan, but does require beefing up the medical and rescue supplies, and may suggest having enough supplies to help neighbors who were either unprepared or who lost their supplies in the disaster.

    I’ve come around to thinking that the best protection against good neighbors getting scared and violent is the ability to help them with the basics: clean water, beans, and rice. Cheap and effective, helps others instead of having a confrontation.

    Before doing a lot else, we need to sit down and figure out which potential problems are the likeliest to happen to us in our own situation, and figure out what we should do first in response. We should also decide what other problems may be a good deal less likely, but have such high consequences that we want to be prepared for them as well.

    A simple, commonplace example would be fire insurance: the house burning down is a very low probability event, but would have such high consequences that we prepare for the possibility by having smoke detectors and insurance. We also want to be able to escape the house if an uncontrollable fire breaks out while we are home.

    In a very low crime neighborhood, locking the doors and windows might seem reasonable, but someone in a very high crime neighborhood might want to install heavy duty security doors and bar the windows early on, as well as providing for personal protection.

    The results of thinking out one’s own situation should impact nearly all the other things one should do, so it is well to do it early on, and to revisit it now and then, as one’s situation changes.

    We have no interest in becoming Diehard Preppers, in part because we think the need is very low probability, and because we think that we, in our situation, would likely find it impossible to survive a major societal collapse (from any cause) no matter how well we were prepared. Car accidents, house fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, yes, those are well worth our efforts, and and being prepared for them prepares us reasonably well for such (I hope) far less likely events like a pandemic.

    As demonstrated by the events of the last week or so, cyberwar is a possibility which some people might like to consider. My understanding is that the Chinese have said explicitly that cyberwar will be the core front of any major war, and it is pretty clear that quite a few governments are working on both waging and defending against cyberwar.

    Too few people understand the consequences of a successful attack on the electrical grid- both on the distribution grid and on the generation facilities. Shutting down power -possibly by damaging generators, including nuclear plants- doesn’t just send us back to the candle era for some time: it shuts down the water grid by shutting down the pumps, purification systems, and sewerage systems.

    Imagine several cities at once going three weeks in August without water, with no power for the gasoline pumps which would let people drive to unaffected areas. Again, not a situation which would likely require being self-sufficient for 6 months or a year, but a month would be comforting. A month’s worth of water and food for a couple, though don’t last long if the problem hits while one has a house full of visiting family. That is while #1) is so important: only we can figure out for ourselves what our situation is, and how we should respond. Some things may seem worth preparing for, others not.

    • you’re so right that people don’t appreciate the dangers of having the electrical grid go down! with our aging nuclear plants only required to keep a week of diesel fuel on hand, a grid-down situation would result in one fukishima-type meltdown after another as each plant ran out of the diesel their generators need to keep the spent fuel rods cool. as someone who lives downwind of about half a dozen plants, that’s a possibility that chills my spine.

  5. Thanks for listing several categories I think everyone feels you fall into either non-prepper or super-prepper. I was recently on a site where there was an emergency scenario presented and most of the commenters were kind of abusive in the comments on ‘why would they do x’ instead of using all their stock or tool. Generally not thinking that not everyone has those items or ever runs out of things i.e. they fall into a newbie prepper category.

  6. I am so looking forward to this upcoming series of your Gaye! I have been a huge fan of the 12 months series. Your point about alternate routes and avoiding major streets hit a nerve with me because I have been thinking a lot lately about alternate routes for both getting home or bugging out. One thought I had that disturbed me somewhat is thinking that an evacuation/bug out might be necessary at a time when winter weather has most roads impassable except for the main arteries that have been plowed. I can foresee how this timing could be used to funnel people to where authorities might want to corral them. Do you have any thought on this?

    • I don’t know where you live, however where I am there are several different groups in chage of plowing roads. For example the state roads in our town are plowed by the state, but all other roads are the township’s responsibility. Often the township roads are cleared in a more responsive manner than the sate roads, even though the state roads are the main thoroughfares. So I couldn’t see anyone funneling people to specific spots here.
      Anywhere I’ve lived there there have been multiple agencies involved in snow removal, state, county, town and trust me they don’t always communicate well – case in point was the recent Buffalo storm in Nov, one of the biggest issues in getting the area dug out was the lack of communication among all the groups.

    • One way to look at this. If the roads are so bad you cant go anywhere, the roads will be to bad for the bad guys to get to you. Just saying.

    • Are you sure you want me to get going on how the government will start rounding us up?

      Anyway, the situation would have to be extremely dire before bugging out. By dire I mean the roof is about to cave in or floodwaters have engulfed the first floor of my home. Something like that. Still, it could happen and if it does, we need a way out.

      A book I am currently reading (actually, an audio book) is James Wesley Rawles “Patriots”. Getting through this book is taking a long time because although it is fiction, it also has value as a survival manual of sorts. In it, I am learning how to hide in plain sight while bugging out on foot.

      There are no easy or comfortable answers to your question although I hope to ferret out some strategies in the upcoming series.

    • What a good point. You really are looking at two situations combined. 1) gov’t roundup (gov’t using road closings “to funnel people to where authorities might want to corral them), and 2) bug out during an all but main road closing snow storm. So you are discussing a government round-up during an all but main road closing gov’t round-up (correct?). So, the first I would say have a plan for each situation by itself. What would you do for a gov’t round-up? What would you do if yo were trying to bug out and the roads were closed do to a snow storm. [If you can’t tell already, I am a geek and I love this stuff, what a fun scenario- as long as it stays hypothetical]. I will not discuss a gov’t round up by itself on-line. As for the bug-out, Gay has recommended having 3 routes at least two on non-main roads, and I believe she has recommended having a walk-out plan as well. So, have you made this plan/ these plans already? If so, can you walk out in the snow? Do you have snow shoes, cross country skies, walking poles with ice tips, snow mobile, 4-wheels, snow adapters for a truck, a 4 wheel drive truck/ vehicle, chains for your tires? If the side roads are closed and the gov’t is on the main rads this would be a good scenario for me as I would avoid the main roads and this avoid them. Since this seems to be a concern of yours (for the sake of discussion let’s assume I am correct in my assumption) I would recommend yo have a vehicle large enough for a plow and a plow (and plenty of fuel). A) you could clear the main road for others, B) you can use the roads the gov’t isn’t on, C) you could buy it under a business and write it off (start a plowing business), D) you could get a contract or two (or more) and do some plowing when it snows in the winter. This will supplement the cost and who knows it could take off to a lucrative business or maybe at least pay for the new gear and some other preps. Anyway, I could go on all day and I have to move on to some business now. Thanks for posting such a good comment on Gay’s site, sorry if I hijacked a question for her, but it was fun. One parting comment- I think (having worked near, with, along side, and for the gov’t at various times) you give the gov’t too much credit. In fact, if comments like this were not on the internet I don’t think they would ever think of such a productive idea. Cheers 🙂

    • SM3, thanks for all the thought you put into this reply. You have really given me a lot to think about. Your assumption was correct about the root of my concerns. yes I am accused from time to time of ‘worrying too much’ but that’s why we prep, right? I too would like to do more discussions on scenario options. Gaye, you hit the nail on the head about the reason for bugging out in the first place, it would have to be a dire emergency, house on fire, dirty bomb detonated overhead or something like that. And actually, yes I would welcome your input about how you think round ups could happen. some times I suffer from lack of imagination and how can I cover my butt for a scenario that I haven’t thought of yet? SM3 I think you are probably very right about giving gov too much credit but you shouldn’t underestimate your opponent(if you classify them as opponent). BTW, I apologize for taking so long to reply, for some reason I keep getting unsubscribed from receiving followup comments.

  7. Gaye, thanks for writing this article. I an going to send it on to family and friends who think prepping is too hard.
    I was overwhelmed in the beginning too, but using your site as my go-to source, I was able to build up a very decent supply of food, water, medical supplies, defense and skills. We are even in the beginning stages of developing a MAG. It brings me a great sense of calm and security knowing we are prepared. Thank you for holding my hand during this journey for the past 3 years!

  8. I’m not sure that the Mormons fall into the category of preppers. They are all encouraged to have a years supply of food and provisions. There are over 15 million Mormons.

  9. ” My guess is that most folks believe that the government will step in. ” – nobody believe it, any folk. The goverment alow you to be enough scary to create really big income making your storage. The milion of preppers create a big demand as 5 million people in a very short time. This is a perfect recipe for crisis. Hope that will not cause an epidemic of plague in rodents and perishable food and spoiled water…

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