Being prepared could quite literally save your life at some point, so why would you not put in a little bit of effort to the cause? Preparedness prevents paranoia and, in my experience, can ease a lot of the worry about all the “what if’s” in the world. The good news is that you can be prepared without being labeled “a crazy prepper,” and without feeling like one. So, if you don’t have the time, money, or inclination to build an underground bunker and store up 10 years of food and wear a foil hat, here are some simple things you can do to be prepared in case the world as you know it is no longer to your liking or ceases to exist, while still keeping your sanity intact.
First, consider whether you’ll be staying in your home if disaster strikes, or bugging out (e.g. going to join friends, family, or into the back country). Ideally you’ll want to prepare for both options.
Water – figure on one gallon of water per day per person, minimum. This amount will not allow for much water usage for sanitary reasons, but will get you by short-term. You could buy bottled water (and the resulting waste), or buy a storage container and fill from your tap. Multiply this to the extent you desire. And, you could also consider a Waterbob for your bathtub.
Food – consider joining a bulk store like Costco or Sam’s, and start buying some buckets of pre-packaged dried meals. At a cost of just over $50 for 106 servings of food, and a shelf life of 20 years, purchasing a few of these will ensure that you have nourishment when you need it. Put it in your designated preparedness space and forget about it. You could also make your own survival food (but be careful about shelf life). Or, go old school and stock up a 25 pound bag of beans and a 25 pound bag of rice – beans and rice will last a long time and at least keep you alive, plus they can be mixed in with the pre-packaged dried food to stretch it further.
Shelter – have a plan to secure your home if required. Consider buying some plywood, screws, and a drill if you will need to board up ground level doors or windows. And get into the habit of locking your doors (but you already do that, riiiiiight?!).
Warmth – you’ve probably already got warm clothing and blankets. Think about what else you might need to stay warm if there are no utilities. A wood-burning fireplace is an added perk – make sure you include some fire starting options, tinder, and wood in your prep stash.
Defense – personal defense and hunting options are a matter of personal preference but I strongly recommend not relying on just a taser or pepper spray to keep yourself safe (or to procure food). My personal all-purpose weapon of choice for a survival situation where I might have to defend myself/home and hunt food would be a 12 gauge shotgun. Mossberg makes a good pump-action 12 gauge that’s affordable, easy to use, takes cheap ammo, and can be used for defense or hunting. Whatever weapon you choose, buy it legally and then keep it secure at all times (a gun lock or gun safe are good options). Also, consider adding a minimum of two knives to your prep gear – a large straight blade for chopping/cutting, and a good pocket knife.
Other – first aid kit, rubbing alcohol and peroxide, vitamins, feminine products, fun/games like a deck of cards, some candy (to lift your spirits or to trade) – and maybe some liquor for the same reasons, and toilet paper.
Survival bag (per person) – put together a bag to take with you, either a large pack, a smaller bag, or a minimal kit. Have this stored in a place where you can grab it and go when needed. Consider storing some survival gear in your vehicle also, especially if it’s off-road capable.
Water – keep some extra water in your vehicle, or keep a storage container filled and stored next to your survival bag, ready to grab and go. You’ll also have water filtration and purification tools in your survival bag.
Food – keep a bucket of dried food with your bag and water, ready to grab and go. Stuff a few pre-packaged meals in your survival bag as well, in case you have to ditch your car.
Shelter – your survival bag should contain items you need for warmth and shelter, such as an emergency shelter, tarp, emergency blanket, etc., plus fire starting supplies.
Defense – decide what you’re comfortable carrying on the move. A good knife, a handgun, etc. Again, don’t rely just on pepper spray or a taser.
Pets – prepare for them too. Water, food, treats, clean-up bags, leash and tie-outs. Keep a bag of their supplies stashed with your gear so you can grab and go.
Situational Awareness – get off your phone already and pay attention to the world around you! Get in the habit of being aware of your current situation – what’s going on, who’s driving by, who’s walking toward you, where are people looking, what are they doing? Be in the know, pay attention, and you’ll be able to react more quickly in any situation.
Positive Mental Attitude – this may be the most important survival skill. You could do everything I’ve recommended here and if you have a bad/pessimistic/hopeless attitude your chances of dying greatly increase (or at the very least you'll be really unhappy and what fun is that?). Look on the bright side, focus on the positive, plaster a smile on your face, and laugh – not only will this help you, but it’ll make things easier for everyone around you also!
You can go very far down the rabbit hole once you start prepping. This post is intended to be a simple version of the minimum you could do and still be better off than most people who count on 7-Eleven to be open when they need anything. Put a little thought into your personal situation and what it would take to survive, then prepare for it. Buy one item each paycheck, or one item per month. Before you know it, you’ll have a prepper stash to be proud of, and you’ll still be sane!
What would you change or add to this guide? Comment below! And, thanks for reading!
by Dawn Gallegos
Dawn Gallegos is the founding editor of the Chicks On The Rocks blog. When she's not working to fund her Jeep habit she's thinking up new ways to inspire others to explore the great outdoors.