Before we begin, let me make one thing clear: being prepared for most natural and man-made disasters has little to do with Doomsday, zombies or those reality shows where preppers spend hundreds of thousands on expensive gear and bunkers.
Instead, I invite you to skip over any preconceptions you may have and over what mainstream media wants you to believe and look at prepping from a different angle: one that focuses to increase your chances of survival in case of a wide variety of large- and small-scale events.
See, every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans die in unfortunate accidents simply because they were reckless and unprepared. Car crashes kill over 35,000 per year, drowning – 3,500, carbon monoxide kills 500 each year and bike accidents even more. These are just a few of the “top performers.” Let’s not forget the other critical events and small-scale disasters such as food poisoning, rape, assaults, house fires (over 1.2 million every year), flash floods, ice storms, avalanches and on and on.
If we start counting not just deaths but also injuries, we begin to see just how important it is to be prepared. Although I’ve written a comprehensive article on how to start prepping here, today I want to give you a head start with a few of my best of the best tips if you’re new to this.
A lot of mistakes are being made because people flock to buy gear and end up getting overpriced things that will fail them when they need them most.
Which brings me to my first tip …
#1. Read like crazy for the first couple of weeks and avoid buying anything.
Here’s the problem: the market is filed with ready-made first aid kits, bug-out bags and assortment buckets for the lazy prepper. Of course they’re better than nothing but they’re also expensive and you’re much better of making them yourself. This will:
- save you money,
- teach you a lot more about survival,
- …and you’ll end up with a much better pack.
For example, if you were to assemble your first aid kit, you’ll not only spend less but also end up with more and higher quality stuff. Plus, let’s not forget many of us have special medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and so on. Each of these needs to be kept in mind when you’re building your first aid kit.
Plus, when you’re buying everything in bulk, you get to fully pack more than one FAK, too. That way you can have one in your car, another one at your bug-out location, perhaps a serious medicine cabinet inside your home for bug-in scenarios or just medical emergencies.
#2. Keep all your food, water and medicine stockpile in cool, dark places.
Did you know that storing your meds in the bathroom is actually detrimental and decreases shelf life? Obviously, this is because of the humid environment, but this applies to food as well. The last thing you want is a compromised stockpile that, instead of keeping you well-fed post collapse, can kill you instead.
Make it a rule of thumb to store all your food, water and medicine in cool, dry, dark places and away from rodents. In places that don’t meet these criteria you can store other things such as tools, clothes, books, tents, tarps, signaling mirrors, floss, Paracord and so on.
#3. Focus on your physical skills and fitness.
So many preppers stock up on gear because it’s easier and more comfortable than practicing their skills. Little do they know that, in a riot or in a confrontation with the police, the weak will perish first, no matter how expensive their gear is.
This is why functional fitness is paramount to any prepping plan. Strength, speed, stamina and flexibility are the 4 pillars that might just save your life in a number of critical situation, such as:
- running away from tear gas, angry mobs, thugs or even the police who might mistake you for a bad guy,
- jumping obstacles, fences, downed trees etc.,
- bugging out through the woods for days on end,
- …and, of course, lifting heavy objects, fighting your way out of the arms of an attacker or freeing yourself from the place you’re being held hostage.
This is even more important if you’re 50 years or older because, odds are, you haven’t worked out in a while.
The reality is, SHTF situations are scary, exhausting and downright dangerous and you NEED your strength and flexibility to survive. Skills trump gear and food stockpile any day; and the beauty is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get fit. There are a huge number of exercises you can do right at home or outside, such as walking, running, squats, sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks and many more.
#4. Don’t prepare for only one disaster scenario.
If you watched those reality prepper shows, you noticed how each prepares for one scenario only … be it war, pandemic or an economic collapse. This is, of course, marketing hype and I’m willing to bet they’re prepping for a lot more than that.
What you should do, before you start buying stuff, is figure out what are the things that are most likely to affect you and your family and prep for those first. In some cases, even bugging out into the woods might sound like a bad idea. Though we’re all in this mess together, it’s up to you to figure out your unique situation and prep for what you feel is more likely to happen to you.
#5. Focus on survival medicine.
When bullets start flying, when people attack each other for a loaf of bread, a lot of blood will be spilled. Besides having a serious first aid kit, you should also focus on the basics of survival medicine because, chances are, you or a family member will get injured at some point. You can read more on this here.
In my humble opinion, it’s much better to focus on the basics of medicine instead of having a one-year stockpile because most disasters only last for days, maybe weeks. If you survive them in one piece, you live to see another day and, of course, to consume your stockpile and use your survival gear.
As you can probably guess, these tips are only the beginning. There’s a HUGE number of prepping and survival books and eBooks, but don’t let that scare you into not taking action. If I were you, I’d start reading everything I can find, then I’d start building my bug-out bag to help me through the first 3 days of a disaster. If you’re looking for some more easy reading, you can continue with the 10 commandments of survival on this page.