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By August 7, 2012 Read More →

Preparedness 101: A Newbie Guide

Prepping 101

Prepping 101

This one goes out to the newbies.

When a newbie finds themselves on a survival or prepping site, they will often come across detailed and complex articles on a very specific topic that, while being extremely important and offering tons of value, that will overwhelm them.  A newbie doesn’t need to know how to properly can and preserve sweet banana peppers in the autumn when the moon is in Scorpio.  A newbie needs a place to start.

And that’s what this is:  a place to start. Welcome to Prepping 101.  Please take your seats and open your notebooks, class is about to begin.

  1. WATER

Probably the most important thing you can do is prepare an emergency water supply.  Water is one of the essential pieces to the staying alive puzzle (along with having a clean air supply and things like not being on fire at the present moment), and it’s fairly cheap and easy to put together a stash.  This is the low hanging fruit here, so everyone should have an emergency supply, no excuses.

You’ll want to store at least 4L of water per person, per day.  This will allow enough water for drinking and luxuries like washing your hands from time to time.  How long to prepare for is a bit of a personal choice.  FEMA recommends at least 3 days.  I say at least 2 weeks.  If you have the space and resources to prepare for longer, by all means do.

You can buy bottled water from the store, or store it in your own plastic containers.  If the container used to have something in it, wash it out with water and a drop of bleach first.  Don’t store water in anything that had juice or milk in it before, as sugars and fats are difficult to fully remove, and can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

Along with your water supply, you should have a secondary means of water filtration and purification.  This will give you more flexibility, and allows for long term survival once your supply runs out.  Ceramic and glass fiber are effective as filters, and boiling, using iodine and using chlorine are effective forms of purification.  Having a method of both filtration and purification is the best way to ensure you are able to make an unknown water source safe to drink.

For more information on the topic, read these articles on creating and emergency water supply and water filtration and purification.

  1. FOOD

Your next step is to prepare an emergency food supply.  As for how long to prepare for, the same guidelines as water apply: 3 days bare minimum, 2 weeks to feel comfortable, even longer if space and resources allow you to.

You’ll want high-calorie, high nutrient food that gives you the most bang for your buck.  You’ll want non-perishable items, so you can store them for a long time without is spoiling.

Some ideas are: canned food, white rice, wheat, vegetable oils, dried corn, peanut butter, cereals, dried fruit, potatoes, crackers, powdered milk, beef jerky, raisins, most boxed cookies, etc.   Supplements such as multivitamins, protein powder and Omega 3s are wise to store as well.

Remember that if you’re planning for the short term (a few days to a few weeks), nutrition matters less, and the important thing is getting enough calories.  If you’re planning for the long term, however, you need to focus more on nutrition.  What you eat will have an effect on your health, and you want to make sure you have all of your bases covered (enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, enough of the proper vitamins and minerals, etc).  You don’t want to be living on boxed cookies for months, guys.  If the apocalypse comes and you get scurvy a few months in, I’m going to be very upset.

There are some advanced options for food storage.  Things like freeze dried food and MREs offer you balanced meals with a long shelf life and are generally easy to prepare.  Developing the hobby of canning and preserving food is a good idea too, and will help you in creating an emergency food supply.

You might want to consider a long term, sustainable food supply as well.  Do you have a garden?  How much food could you grow if you needed to?  Would you consider raising small animals such as chickens or rabbits?

For more information read this article on creating an emergency food supply.


After covering food and water, you’re going to want to prepare your house.  Some essential items you’ll need and areas you’ll need to cover:

A battery powered radio, with extra batteries: in an emergency, it’s likely you will lose power at some point, and this may be your only source of information.

A first aid kit: make sure you have at least one of these in your house and one in your vehicle, and make sure you know how to use them.  Taking a first aid training/CPR course is never a bad idea.

Sanitization: You’ll want to consider how you would handle it if you lost running water.  Have a stash of buckets and garbage bags, for removing waste.  Have extra supplies of things like anti-bacterial gels and chlorine bleach, as well as general hygiene supplies (toothbrushes and paste, shampoo, soap, etc).

Security: You’ll want to take steps to make your home as safe as possible when facing a potential disaster.  The exact steps will vary from place to place, depending on what disaster you are most likely to face:

If it’s a hurricane, is your home structurally sound?  Do you have storm shutters?  Do you have flood insurance?  Do you have a centralized room in your basement, with no windows or doors, to hole up in during the worst of it?  Do you have a place to go if you needed to evacuate?  Do you have a long term plan if a Katrina situation were to happen to your region?

If it’s a tornado, is your property clear of any potential projectiles?  Do you have a safe, low-level room you can get to quickly? Does your home spread out its support structures, or is it prone to collapse because most of the weight is held up by its walls?

You get the idea.


Sometimes during a disaster, the best thing to do is get out of there.  There is no shame in this, evacuation doesn’t equal cowardice.  Make sure you have a solid escape plan, should it ever come to it.

Your vehicle: Is your vehicle kept in great shape, so you can rely on it during an emergency?  Do you keep your gas tank as full as possible at all times?  Do you have some extra gas stored for emergencies? Remember that gas stations run dry very quickly during a disaster.

Supplies: While it’s important to have your home stocked, you’ll also want to have a stash of supplies you can bring with you in case you need to move.  Consider creating a bug-out bag, a collection of survival items to get you through the vital first few days of an emergency.

A family plan: Does everyone in your family know what to do in an emergency?  Are they reachable at all times?  Do you have a designated meet up spot should your home be inaccessible?

And there you have it.  If you prepare an emergency water and food supply, prepare your home for any disasters you might face, and create an evacuation plan, you will be off to a very good start, and in a better position than 90% of the people out there.

So class is dismissed, but don’t forget to finish your homework.

Good luck and stay prepared!

You can read more from RamboMoe at his blog,

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3 Comments on "Preparedness 101: A Newbie Guide"

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  1. Bob says:

    The thing I had the most trouble with when starting prepping was food. It takes a LOT of planning and organization to figure out now to implement a rolling food supply. Some items are easy… for example, canned beans. They’re good for years so you’re in no danger of hitting the “use by” date unless you don’t actually eat canned beans. Wherein lies the rub, you need to actually eat the food you have stored, and on a regular basis, then replace the consumed food when it falls below your predetermined storage level. You can’t just throw some food on a shelf and forget about it until an emergency hits.

    Most people, myself included, have a preset litany of recipes that they cook. Figure out the recipes you cook most often, and figure out how to store those items. Can they be stored on a shelf? Do they have to be frozen? Are they items you can’t really store, like bread? Buy a few weeks supply of these items, and use them as you prepare your usual menu. When you go grocery shopping, replace the items used up.

    Once you have a handle on keeping a rotating stock of food that will last X days, start expanding it slowly.

    Here are 2 problems I have had, and have solved to a degree: First, bread. I now buy all my bread as premixed boxes (My favored brand is Hodgson Mill.) These have a shelf life of up to a year. I keep a 3 month supply of these, and replace them as I use them. I keep them on the shelf in expiration date order, so I’m always using the oldest one first. I use a bread machine to bake the loaves, but I know how to do it manually if it comes to that. Second: Fruit. I like to eat a lot of fruit… and have no practical way to store it. Eventually, I’ll plant fruit trees that can be canned, and can the fruit, but for now I have a supply of canned fruit (In literal cans.) that I occasionally eat. 90% of my fruit still comes from the grocery store, though. If that’s cut off tomorrow, all I’ll have is the canned supply.

    Here’s the problem, the fruit in cans is only good for a year of so, and I only occasionally eat it from the cans. So I cannot store a long term supply. Don’t store more food than you will eat during the food’s storage time! Now, if the grocery store closes… I won’t die, I just won’t get fresh fruit. I won’t get scurvy either, as I have canned fruit, just not enough to eat every day.

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