We know we want to protect and prepare our families from any emergencies and disasters that may occur, but where so we start?
When you think about all the possible emergencies and disasters that are possible, it can be overwhelming to try to think about how to prepare to handle them all. To avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed and confusion of how to start prepping for disasters, let’s start with a simple 10 step plan.
“How To Start Prepping” – 10 Step Plan
Step 1- Awareness
In order to prepare for any possible emergency or disaster that may affect us, we must be aware of what those dangers are. We need to know what we are prepping for. So many times, I have seen someone start preparing for some specific event, having all the survival tools and equipment ready for that event to happen, but then be totally unprepared for some other “disaster” that befalls them.
For example, a prepper could be totally prepared for that storm that may come, having food and water stocked up, but then walk out of work late one night to find their car won’t start because of a dead battery. Do they have a battery booster to jump-start their car or are they left stranded waiting for help?
We need to take a look and be aware of what types of emergencies or disasters that are most likely to happen to us, and have broad enough preparations that we can adapt to handle these disasters. Let’s take a look at some of the things that could happen so that we will be able to make our plan. I’ve divided these up into 3 groups: 1) Common things we can prepare for, 2) Larger, more serious disasters that happen, and 3) Some major devastating events that are possible.
- Injuries around the home
- Vehicle accidents
- Car breakdown
- Kitchen fires
- Insect stings & bites
- Snake bites
- Burst water pipes
- Storms (Snow, wind, rain, hail, lightning, tornadoes, etc.)
- Losing your job
- Road rage
- Falls (Off ladders, stairs, from trees, etc.)
- Choking, heart attacks, etc.
Larger, More Serious Disasters
- Home fires
- Active shooter events
- Terrorist attacks
- Home invasions
- Power outages
- Chemical spills
- Economic collapse
- Natural or Man-made EMP disasters
- Nuclear attacks
Now that we’ve looked at some the disasters that could happen to us, we can take the next step in our prepping- Make a Plan.
Step 2: Start to Develop a Plan
Start with a family meeting. Have a family meeting where you can discuss emergencies you might face and what each family member should do. You want to make sure everyone knows what to do, including children. By having a plan in place, it will help to avoid the confusion that is likely to occur during the emergency.
At least once a year, get together with your family and go over your emergency/disaster plan. It will constantly be changing as you develop more knowledge, skills, and building up you stockpile of items needed.
Make an Emergency Contact List
Make sure each member of the family has a list of important number to call in case of emergency. Have each family member’s phone number, poison control, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, insurance, fire, police, local friend or family emergency contact, school, work, utilities (gas company, electric company, etc.) on this list. Post a copy on the refrigerator, keep a copy in your wallet or purse as well as in your cell phone contacts list.
Determine Rally Points
What is a rally point? It is a place or location where every family member will go in case of emergency so everyone can meet together to know they are all safe and to plan your next move.
We all have busy lives, so chances are if some emergency or disaster were to suddenly happen, all your family members would not be together. If phones have dead batteries, phone systems are out of service from storms, you want to have a place where everyone can meet to know they are all safe.
- Have a rally point in the home, like the basement or special room to meet as a safe location. This may be your “safe” room where you go in case of severe wind storms or in case of a tornado.
- Have a close rally point where you all agree to meet in case you have to evacuate you home. For example, you could all meet together on the corner down the street from you home in case of fire or a gas leak.
- And finally, have a meeting point away from your home. You may need a place to meet in case you would have to evacuate the area, like in the case of a flood or wildfire. This rally point could be a friend or relative’s home, a vacation home, or some other pre-planned bug-out location.
An emergency or disaster may occur when you or your family members are not at home. You may be at work, or at school, running errands, traveling, vacationing, or out doing any other kind of activity. If any of these type of occurrences were to happen, you want to have another place where you all agree to meet up.
Get a Binder for Your Important Documents
I suggest you get a 3 ring binder where you can keeps your plans, notes, checklists, copies of how-to articles, important documents, cash, etc. all in one place for reference or to be able to grab quickly in case you need to evacuate. Get some 10 tab index dividers, top loading 9×11 sheet protectors and zippered binder pockets to organize your emergency plan.
Determine a Location in Your Home to Store Your Emergency Supplies
You are going to need space in your home to store your emergency supplies to be prepared for any disaster that may occur. Depending on how long a time period you want to stock up for, whether it be for the minimum recommended 72 hours, of you want to go all out and be prepared to last for months or years, you will need a place to keep your food, water, and other emergency supplies.
Prepare Your Financial Budget
Eliminating as much financial debt as possible will help to reduce hardships during times of disaster and will help you to fund any supplies you need to be prepared. Using coupons, buying on sale or in bulk, garage sales are some things you can do. Plan a budget on what you will spend for the supplies you need to survive a disaster. Even just a small amount invested consistently into your supplies will go a long ways in getting you prepared.
Don’t Advertise You Are Prepping
It can be exciting to getting prepared for disasters, but it is best not to be telling everyone what you are doing. That often results in on of two things happening, 1) Some people will think you are crazy, like some of those “doomsday preppers” they saw on TV and try to talk you out of preparing, or 2) When some disaster does occur, those that did not prepare will flock to you and expect you to help them out. Your supplies will only go so far, and you need to take care of you and your family first.
Step 3: Prepare Your EDC Kit
What is an Every Day Carry (EDC) Kit?
Your Ever Day Carry (EDC) Kit is simple the things you carry with you everyday to help in little emergencies or hardships you come across.
Most of us carry our cell phone, keys, and a wallet or purse as part of our EDC items. How about adding a few other items that will often come in handy.
- Pocket knife -for opening letters and packages, cutting cord, etc.
- Small multi-tool- These often have a small knife, screwdrivers, pliers and other useful tools in them.
- Bandaids- for simple cuts or scrapes
- Aspirin or ibuprofen for headaches or pain
- Needle and thread- Ever have a button fall off your shirt or blouse?
- Lighters-Lighting a candle or starting a fire in an emergency.
- Extra cash- kept only for emergency
- Other items you may find useful that you want to carry with you.
See My Small EDC Survival Kit for the items I carry with me everyday.
Step 4: Prepare Your Home For /Emergencies or Disasters
OK, so now you have an idea of what types of emergencies and disasters are most likely to affect you and your family and the basic needs you have for survival, let’s start getting your home prepared.
- Structurally sound: Take an outside look at your home to see if it is prepared for the weather. Is the roof and gutters in good shape to protect from rain? No loose shingles or siding that could be torn off from winds. Any low hanging tree limbs that could rub or break off and damage the home? Any broken sidewalks that are a tripping hazard or any other obvious hazards around the house. Take a look through the inside and look for potential hazards also.
- Locks & alarms: Are doors and windows secured with good locks and deadbolts? Do you have an alarm system? Be sure to check the condition of any garage doors also.
- Insurance: Do you have adequate insurance coverage? I suggest you also put together a good inventory of your possessions in case of loss or damage. A quick and simple way is to go through each room and take pictures of everything. This make it easy to remember everything in case of loss from fire, flood, or theft.
- Smoke Alarms: Smoke alarms give an early warning of a fir, giving people additional time to escape. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 3 of every 5 home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that were not working. Do you have alarms on each floor, fresh batteries installed, and are yours working?
- Fire extinguishers: Do you have fire extinguishers available for use. Most common causes of home fires are from cooking, heating equipment (especially portable heaters), careless smoking, electrical cords and equipment, candles and children playing with fire.
- Flashlights: If the power goes out, do you have flashlights available? Are they located in strategic places where you can find them quickly?
- First aid kit: Do you have a first aid kit? Is it well stocked and supplies replaced as they are used? Do you have some first aid training to know how to treat common injuries and illnesses?
- Water: Do you have water stored in case the water supply gets disrupted or contaminated? (Look at what happened in Flint, Michigan. Many other cities have had reports of contaminated water supplies, lead contamination being one of the most common.) Are you on well water? What if your power goes out? Do you have another way to pump that water from your well?
- Food: Do you have enough food stocked to last through any possible disasters you may face? If you lost your job or income, would you have enough food supplies stock up to hold you over for a time?
- Protection: Do you have protection in case an intruder tries to break in? Do you know how to discourage intruders from trying to break in?
These are just some of the basics we want to start with. We’ll go into much more detail on these areas in later chapters.
Step 5: Prepare Your Vehicles For Emergencies
- Keep a Full Fuel Tank. If power goes out, you may not be able to get fuel at the gas stations.
- Keep some Emergency Supplies in Your Vehicle. Have a small tools kit to handle minor repairs. A battery jump starter, booster cables, tow strap, and shovel are some other ideas.
- Spare tire and know how to change a flat tire
- Have a first aid kit in every vehicle.
- Have some food and water stored in your vehicle in case you get stranded.
- Raincoats, ponchos, and other clothing in case the weather changes.
- Good walking or hiking shoes in case you need to leave your vehicle to get help.
Step 6: Prepare an Evacuation Kit
Have some supplies packed and ready to grab quickly in case you would need to evacuate your home. It could be a plastic tote with some food, water, medicines, blankets, or camping supplies. Preppers often refer to this as their “Bug-out” Bag. You want to have it ready, because if you have to leave in a hurry, you don’t want to be scrambling around looking for things or forget to pack something you need.
I also suggest each person has their own bug-out-bag packed for their personal survival.
Have some pre-planned destinations for your “bug-out locations. That could be friends or family’s homes, cabins or vacation homes, or campers. Even having a tarp or a tent can get you though some disasters as a temporary shelter. Have alternate routes planned that can avoid the traffic jams that often occur during large evacuations.
Step 7: Prepare the Essentials
Here is where we get into the preparations most people think of when they are learning how to start prepping.
What are the essentials?
These are the basic things we must have in order to survive a disaster and to help keep us safe. Let’s touch briefly on each of these items:
Getting first aid and medical treatment during a disaster is critical to your survival. If you can’t breathe or are severely bleeding, death can happen in minutes. Even simple cuts and scrapes, if not treated properly, can result in infections with serious complications later on.
Have a good first aid kit at home and one in every vehicle where they are accessible when needed. Don’t forget RV’s, campers, boats and other recreational vehicles.
For survival during a disaster, each person will need a minimum of 1 gallon of water per day. Think of those without water and utilities after many recent floods. In one weeks time, each person will need 7 gallons of water. For a family of 4, that’s 28 gallons. That’s a lot of water you need stored. Don’t plan on buying more at your local market. That’s usually the first thing to disappear off the shelves after a disaster.
If you run out of fresh water, you will need a way to treat or filter water to make it safe to use.
You will also need to know where to find water that you can treat. Know where to find water in your area, whether it is from a lake, river, stream, pond or other source.
You can’t survive without food for very long, and in a disaster situation, you will probably be expending more energy than usual and will need to fuel your body more than normal during these stressful times. You want to stock up on non-perishable foods, foods that have a long shelf-life and do not need refrigeration.
Canned foods and dry goods are often good choices. Freeze dried foods are popular because they have very long shelf-lives, are easy to prepare by adding boiling water, and are very light and easy to transport in your bug-out bags or your other evacuation containers.
Starting a garden, even if just a small container garden, can help supplement your food supply after some disasters.
Other skills, such as hunting, fishing, trapping or knowing how to forage for edible plants can be helpful during many disasters.
Power and Energy
Losing your utilities like gas and electric are very common when disasters happen. These will affect you cooking, heating and cooling, lights, communication, and refrigeration.
Here are a few things you should have available:
- flashlights and spare batteries
- grills, camp stoves, or backpacking stoves to cook on.
- Lighters, waterproof matches, or other fire starting tools.
- Portable solar chargers for your phones to keep communication available.
- Backup generators to supply electricity for medical needs, lights, refrigeration, etc.
Sanitation & Personal Hygiene
You need to keep yourself, eating utensils, tools and other survival equipment clean and have a way of disposing of waste.
- Toilet paper
- Plastic bags for waste. (Remember, toilets may not be working or you may not have enough water to flush them.)
- Paper plates and plastic eating utensils will help conserve your precious supply of water.
Security & Protection
When people don’t have the things they need, they will become desperate and try to take them from others like yourself, who are better prepared. You need to protect yourself, your family, and your survival possessions.
Some options to consider:
- Being aware of dangerous situations and trying to avoid them
- Pepper spray to stop muggers or rapists
- Weapons like knives, hand guns, shotguns, etc. to stop home invasions
Step 8: Learning Survival Skills
In a disaster or survival situation, you will need many skills you may not normally know. You can gain a lot of knowledge and learn many new skills from other articles on this website as well as many other good prepper websites. Youtube has a wealth of great videos to learn from. There are many books available for preppers that would be a good addition to your survival library.
Keep adding to your knowledge and skill base. It is a never ending journey in getting better prepared.
Step 9: Get in Shape
Disaster situations are very stressful. Being in better shape will help in your survival of those hardships you will encounter.
- Are you in shape to walk a distance to find help or get away from a dangerous situation?
- Are you in shape to do the chores need?
- Are you fit enough to protect yourself and loved ones from attackers?
Step 10: Expand Your Time Frame of Preparedness
Start at 72 hours
Why 72 hours? That is the minimum time many disaster relief organizations, like FEMA, Red Cross, etc., will take to get relief aid to you. If you have enough provisions to last 3 days, many times utilities can get restored and roadways are cleared enough for travel and stores to get restocked with needed supplies. Having 3 days of supplies can also give you enough time to travel to a safer location.
Expand your supplies to 1-2 weeks
Once you’ve covered all your needs to survive for 72 hours, start stocking up for at least a week or two for those longer term disaster scenarios.
Stock up to last for 1-3 months
Many large disasters will take weeks to months to recover. Look for example, at the time to recover from the hurricanes that have devastated many areas of the world in recent years.
Even a simple thing like having an unexpected job loss can be devastating, but have a few months of supplies can ease the stress and tension while finding a new one.
Planning for TEOTWAWKI
Many preppers are planning for major disasters that will be “The End Of The World As We Know It”. This could be things like nuclear attack, national financial & economic collapse, natural or man-made EMP (Electo Magnetic Pulse) attacks with extensive blackouts though-out the entire country. These scenarios would change our entire way of life for months or years. In watching world events, these scenarios are not unrealistic.
I hope this has helped you get started in how to prepare for a disaster. Check out the other articles on this site-I am constantly adding more information and updated to stay current with any new developments or new survival gear that may help us stay better prepared.
Make sure to leave your comments and suggestions below.