We hope that you don’t need it, but if the unexpected happens, you’re glad that you’ve got it.
But how do you get started preparing for something that you don’t even know is coming, or can’t even imagine? It’s a good question, but the focus of this article is to provide you with some basic fundamentals and point you in the right direction. As always, you should read as much as you can on the subject and learn all that there is to learn in order to make the best decisions for you and your family; after all, no one knows your needs better than you.
Which brings us to the first step:
1. Learn what you can before you begin. There are a number of websites that you can access, as well as lots of books, manuals and videos that you can start with, to begin your journey. Think of it as doing research for a homework project. The first thing you will notice is that you’ll look at prepping a whole different way. Right now, you might not even know what to ask or research, because you don’t know what you don’t yet know, but once you get into the research, you’ll begin to formulate questions on your own, which will lead you on to new areas of research, and so forth.
A couple of good sites to begin with include:
— Prepper Website: Good place to give you an overall mix of prepping articles, all of which are handpicked by the site’s operator. It’s kind of like the Drudge Report of prepper sites.
— American Prepper Network: Links to many great sites here.
— Survivalist Boards: This is a good site to ask those questions forming in your mind already.
2. Study and practice your plan. Your research efforts will give you a pretty good idea of what you will need to do and how to do it; once you have arrived at this point, it’s time to sit down and flesh out an overall plan. Think of it as making an outline for a book report or a military operation. At this stage, you will list any plans that you already have as well as things you still need to accomplish, generally speaking.
This will be an ongoing process, by the way. As situations — and needs — change, so too will your emergency plan. And it should be a written plan, one that is kept in a binder for all family members to check out and review. Digital backups are good, but you need a hard copy for easy, quick reference.
3. Prepare a bug-out bag. This is important; this is a kit, essentially, that you’ll need to get you from point A to point B, the latter being the location where you will wait out the crisis. Fortunately, there are several locations online where you can research what your bug-out bag should contain (start with this site and this site). Essentially, you’ll have some basics — medical and survival gear, backup communications, spare cash, change of clothes and copies of documents. You can also purchase pre-made kits.
4. Make an emergency contact list. This should include friends and family, as well as emergency services like fire, police and medical.
5. Figure out an escape route. If stuff hits the fan, you may not be safe where you are, especially in a city, so you’ll need a fallback location — and a plan to get there. Know the route and plan on taking something other than a major highway.
6. Know who you will — and will not — be taking with you. You can’t plan for four people and wind up with a dozen. Also, if you have pets, now is a good time to figure out what you will do with them.
7. Incorporate studying and preparing into your lifestyle. You can’t do this if you don’t study and practice now, while you can. Make it a daily part of your life.
8. Get the whole family involved. The more that more of you know, the better; redundancy is key. You should all learn each others’ skills.
9. Get your finances in order. This may seem odd, but if you don’t start living within your means now, you won’t be able to finance the gear and supplies that you need, as well as any lessons you will need to take to learn a skill.
10. Exercise and eat right. Get off the couch, get outside, get into a gym and start eating better. If you are healthier, you will have to take fewer medications, you’ll be able to walk and hike and work harder and longer, and you’ll be better able to defend yourself.
J. D. Heyes