I was recently asked how to begin prepping–what things I would recommend for somebody just taking the first steps in preparedness. (In the interest of full disclosure, the person who asked is both a friend of mine from ‘way back, and a regular reader of this blog.) At first blush, I thought it would be a fairly easy question to tackle, but the more I thought about it, the more complicated it got.
My best answer, I believe, is to begin at the beginning, in whatever way you find easiest. I really wish I had a more concrete answer than that–it would make prepping a much simpler affair, having a basic “get A, B, and C, and you’re there.” It would also indicate a much simpler world, which would be both a blessing and a curse; I’m not so fond of life’s hurdles, but I get quite a bit of satisfaction from looking back at the ones I’ve successfully navigated. Since we don’t have that world, the best I can offer up is generalities.
With that in mind, I do have general advice to offer. It’s not new–I’ve said it all here before, at one time or another. First, think about your situation. What possible calamities are likely to befall you? What can you do to prevent them, or to mitigate their effects? Good things to start are food and water storage. Aim for a three-day supply of each, for each member of your household. You don’t have to get it all at once–spread out the cost over a couple of “regular” shopping trips.
Probably the most important thing overall is to have a plan. Put together a general-purpose one, then build on that with further details, backups, and the “what-ifs.” Ours started with emergency house-fire planning: what to do if we wake up, and the house is burning. We established a meeting place, with a backup. We determined how to escape from different areas (to include egress from upper floors–the kids’ room window was three storeys up!), and decided who was responsible for what under various conditions. We built bug-out-bags for each of us, and placed them where they were easily accessible when escaping. We drilled on doing an escape–practice getting out in a certain amount of time, etc. We drilled on emergency information–who to call, where to go, and the like. The kids treated it like a game, but they still can rattle off my cell phone #, or my wife’s, without hesitation. (Likewise, and it’s a small thing, they actually know our full names–not just “Mom” and “Dad”.)
We took our basic plan–house is burning, get out–and fleshed it out, then started answering other questions: If the house is gone, where do we sleep/what do we do? That led into looking at the possibility of bugging out, as well as thinking about plans for if we’re separated. (For instance, I currently work ~50 miles from home; in the unlikely event of a sudden collapse, I’ve got a “get-home bag” in the car to sustain me for that trip…)
So there’s the basics. The critical first steps in prepping are: deciding to prep, deciding what to prep for, and taking the first steps in doing that prepping *no matter how small those preps may be*. All leavened with healthy doses of long, hard thought about it.
How about you, readers? How did you start, and what were your first steps?