The title may seem a bit odd, since we generally think of the very first thing when we begin to perform any task; but, the first step anyone takes in a prepping adventure, is to come to the realization that the world is and always has been an uncertain place, and that having a base set of knowledge, skills, physical resources and the correct positive attitude, is a necessary thing to do for your own safety and peace of mind as well as your loved ones. It is said that you can lead a horse to water; but, you can’t make him drink, and I suspect most of us have had this same type of thoughts when we try to convince others that prepping is smart and even necessary, often to even have the person agree, and promptly ignore us.
In the prepping community, we often see the term, TEOTWAWKI, or The End OF The World As We Know It, with the important part being the last 4 words, As We Know It. This term to some often conjures up visions of a global nuclear war, or an asteroid impact, creating that Zombie Apocalypse.
The real end of the world as each of us knows it will more likely be a personal event such as an illness or job loss. So how you may ask, do we determine what’s going to happen and how to plan for it?
The simple answer is the Threat Matrix, which we will discuss here. This matrix is not hard or complex; but, will take some effort and thought as you create it, and once it’s completed, you’ll have a map to start you on your journey, with some sort of organization, and perhaps a little less stress. You can use paper and pencil, or a spreadsheet or word processor, if you’re comfortable with those tools. Here’s how you construct yours.
Start with a list of threats in prioritized order, with loss of your income, death in the family, or sudden acute illness at the top. Add global nuclear war and life ending asteroid strike at the bottom. Fill in the middle with the threats you and your family could actually face. For instance, here in Ohio we can have blizzards and tornados; but, are not too concerned with earthquakes or hurricanes and generally not much with floods or wildfires at my location, so be honest with yourself for your area.
Next, starting at the most likely (highest priority) event, make a list of the resources required to mitigate that threat. A resource in this case would be Materials, knowledge, and skills. Keep in mind also that sometimes people confuse information, knowledge, and skills; but, there is a simple way to understand the differences, and that is the application of them to your situation. A library with all of its books or the internet with all of its pages, text, videos, etc. contains absolutely no knowledge. It is only information. When you apply that information by reading, listening, or watching it, then you gain knowledge; but, that does not make a skill. You then apply that knowledge to create a skill, and then practice that skill to become proficient.
Once you have listed the stuff, knowledge, and skills for a threat, move on down to the next one on the list. What you will find is that as you move down the list, you start needing fewer resources, since they have already been covered in the higher priority levels. Once the matrix is complete, you have a map on what supplies, knowledge (books and other information), and skills to acquire, and like any journey, it gets only better with a map to the destination.
Also, note that as you prepare your way down this list, other things you missed will pop into your head; but, be assured that this is normal, and as you move on this journey in an organized fashion, you should occasionally stop and smell the roses, looking back for just a minute to see how far you’ve come. Always looking ahead will only tend to confuse, because this journey never has a final destination. I’ve been on the journey in a serious manner for more than 40 years, and still on occasion wonder what I’m missing. Your journey will be not unlike the stories of Scheherazade, who’s never ending stories kept her alive for 1001 nights by telling stories so intriguing, that her benefactor kept her alive, waiting for her new stories every night. Your extended story and your journey into preparedness will be constantly changing as you acquire new resources or skills, many of which will then equip you to think of and ask questions that might not have initially come to mind.
Often not knowing what we don’t know is our biggest problem; but, as you move forward, often very obvious things will occur to you, at which point you go back and rework the matrix; but, I promise that it will only get easier and you will eventually have at least a little peace of mind.
Another good resource is just reading this forum, and getting pointers and perspectives you may not have otherwise encountered.
Any threat on the list will require some basic starting items, so let’s get started:
Shelter & Clothing
Assuming that you already have a house, apartment or other abode, look around and determine how sheltering in this location would serve you, or if you plan to bug out to another location, look at the resources already cached there, what you need to take with you, your mode of transport, and the safest, least congested routes.
This can be anything from mains power with battery banks, generators, small-scale solar, wind, and water, as in low-head hydro.
On the low end, it could be simply AA, AAA, C, D, 18650, and other types of rechargeable cells with some way to keep them charged. I saw an article long ago in The Mother Earth News showing how someone had rigged a small alternator or generator to a stationary bicycle and used that to charge batteries. Another showed how they used a small battery and a bicycle like this to power a small TV set, so that in order to watch TV, one of the kids had to keep peddling. I suspect their kids were not couch potatoes.
Under energy, keeping warm, cooking, and having a supply of hot water would also be something to consider. It could be as simple as a coal or wood cook stove (assuming you have plenty of coal or wood resources available.
I remember another article where someone constructed their own coal mine. They dug a huge hole on the property, lined it with tarps or some other materials and bought tons of coal that were dumped into the hole. They then covered the coal with more tarps and then soil, making an out of sight relatively easy to access energy source.
Food & Water
A great starting place for this is the LDS food storage calculator found here http://providentliving.com/preparedness/food-storage/foodcalc/
Google can no doubt find others.
Add the LDS books:
- A year’s supply in seven days
- Deseret recipes
- Dry-Pack Handouts
Many of these are available for free download at
Home Storage: Build on the Basics http://www.ldspreparedness.com/Files/dpEnsign.pdf
Update on milk storage: http://savedbyagun.com/Preparation%20Classes/Handouts/102%20-%203%20month%20Supply/milkstor.pdf
I mention and reference the LDS also known as the Mormons primarily because they are one of the best resources for preparedness, since it is part of their doctrine. This is no different than referencing the NRA on firearms issues or the Red Cross for First Aid and CPR, since these are the organizations that have the expertise.
Security will depend a lot on your own situation. It can include everything from firearms (with proper training and practice) to cameras, fences, dogs, etc. This area will need to be assessed as part of filling in the mitigation on the matrix, and will be up to you to determine what works for your location, expertise, and budget,
What we call prepping, the old timers and the Amish just consider living, so with that thought here is an additional resource
Good luck on your journey, and I hope this makes you a little more organized and perhaps less confused, fearful, and stressed out.