Prepping Points – What YOU need to know NOW before the SHTF

by M.D. Creekmore on June 21, 2013 · 16 comments

This is a guest post by “Dan W” and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

The answers to all the questions listed below need to be answered with brutally honesty if you are to be able to determine what you will need to survive any catastrophe, event, civil unrest, etc. The more accurate your answers the better you will be able to prepare:

General: Why are you thinking about prepping? What is your main fear about the future? Define your most pressing concerns and fears. How would their occurrence would affect your day to day life. Be realistic and think “independence” as most events will render our grid system of electricity inoperative or marginal at best. Communications will be degraded or nonexistent. Deliveries of critical goods will be infrequent if at all. You must be able to survive as an independent entity. What will you need to do that? And for how long?

  • Define Your Circumstances: How many people will you be surviving with?
  • How old are they? How old are you?
  • Does anyone need specific items (such as Rx Drugs) to survive?
  • What is the physical conditioning of each person?
  • Are there medical conditions such as allergies, restrictions in
  • movement, sight, etc. that adversely affects them?
  • Will you stay where you are or going someplace else?

Define your needs: This is as simple as determining how many people and for how long you are planning to survive. The needs for a healthy family of four to survive a four month period are vastly different than the same family planning for to survive for four years

Identify your temperament: Are you an assertive “type A” hard charging personality or a follower that needs to be led? Will you do whatever it takes to survive? Could you kill another human in an act of self-defense of you, your family, or your possessions? Do you face difficult situations with strength or shy away because you are reluctant to deal with unpleasant topics? Be honest with yourself, the answer may surprise you.

How much can you spend for survival? Define your financial status. How much extra money do you have, that you are willing to spend on those items you will need, to survive for the period of time you have chosen. Your investment in “prepping” supplies may never be recouped. Food stuffs can be eventually eaten, some items can be sold, but if the SHTF event does not occur, will you curse your decision to spend finances that might have been used elsewhere?

Your Fortress: Where is it that you have chosen to survive? Is it appropriate as a defensible position? How much storage does it have? Is access easy? What are the negatives? How would it be to live there without electricity, water, sewage disposal, etc.? How near are your neighbors. Do you know your neighbors? Will you be an easy target for the first hordes of hungry, angry, marauding gangs? Do you have access to a primary fortress somewhere else?

Climate: Where do you live now or plan to live if you will be leaving your current position. In Prepper lingo this is called “bugging out. Your clothing should be appropriate for the climate where you will be including all of the seasons you may encounter. This consideration should include such items as snowshoes, thermal underwear, boots and ice studs, etc.

Power: Can you survive without power? Not for computers or cell phones but for pumping water from a well, running a small electric heater, or producing light. If you consider a generator then what type? Gas or propane? Are you physically fit enough to start and engine with a cord pull type starter? How will you store gasoline, diesel, or propane to run the device? How much fuel will run it for how long? What about solar power generation? How does that work? Are you knowledgeable enough to work with electricity? Is a source of independent electricity necessary?

Light: Regardless of whether or not you have a source of electricity you will need light to combat the dark of night. Oil lamps, solar lamps that store energy, hand crank flashlights and Coleman lamps are all possible remedies. If your device of choice uses a fuel such Coleman Fuel or propane how much do you need to have in reserve? How many lamp wicks and lamp oil is enough, how many light generation devices are enough?

Security: How will you secure your safety and prevent the theft of your supplies? Do not think that you will call 911 and then wait for the authorities to come to your rescue! You are alone! Whether or not you survive an encounter with one person, or a group, intent on obtaining what you have depends on you. Do you have guns and ammo? Are you comfortable with them and proficient at shooting? Can you kill if the needs arise? If the attack comes at night would you be able to see them before they see you. Do you have a perimeter defense system that will give you advance warning of an intruder?

Water: There are many resources that will tell you how much water a person needs to survive. Storage of water is easy but space consuming. Purifying water is easy if you have Clorox. A water purifier such as is used by hikers works well, but produces a limited amount of water and it takes disposable cartridges. Do you have a source to replenish your water supply? Counter top Purifiers are readily available but are not cheap. Water barrels to catch rain water are cheap and also available. If you plan to have a garden you will need to calculate the water requirements for that in addition to personal needs.

Food: How much is enough? The answer goes back to how many people for how long. Are there sources of foodstuffs you will have access to: wild grains, garden produce, wild game, fish, birds, or your stored foods? How much room do you have to store food that has a long shelf life? Do you have dietary restrictions? Do you have funds enough to buy prepared freeze dried foods? Do you have a way to cook food? How about boiling water every day? Again, the answer to the question of how much is enough depends on your answers to the preceding questions. Consider the age(s) of those you are planning for. Older folks can get by on fewer calories each day than younger people or children. Check out internet sites to see what they sell for different on what would work best for you and yours.

Medications: Prescription medications may be no longer available. Do you have a need for such items? How long will your supply last? Can you stockpile more meds? Are there any over the counter medications that will work as a substitute for prescription meds? Is the med a necessity to maintain life? You’ll have to figure this out an plan accordingly.

Money: What happens if paper currency (or coins) is no longer a source for obtaining what you need? Do you have goods, a skill or profession, food, etc. that you can use for trade goods? Ammunition, alcohol, cigarettes, food, medicines, water, gold, and silver can (and have been) used as trade goods. Think hard about this topic! If I have food and you have gold, and there is no market trading in precious metals, why would I want your gold? Without a viable market that is buying, selling, and setting the price on precious metals it has no worth. For a short term event precious metals might make sense but for a longer term upheaval, gold and silver don’t even make very good bullets …. they are too soft. You can’t eat your gold or silver.

Weapons & Ammo: Weapons are a necessity. Weapons without ammo are fancy hammers. Again the question of type and quantity applies. Weapons need to be cleaned and maintained. You will not be able to go down to the lock gun shop and get repair work done if something breaks. Redundancy is the way to handle this. Do not have one each of 10 different kinds of weapons. If you have a pistol, buy another of the same caliber. This is the same with rifles and shotguns. Buy a substantial amount of ammo for each weapon. The 357 caliber pistol is a good one to have as it can fire both 38 special and 357 calibers. Shotguns are good defense weapons and if you purchase one, get a 12 gauge. It has all the stopping power you need and doesn’t require a sharpshooter to hit a target. This is all a matter of personal choice, but essential to your survival. Do not carry an unloaded weapon …………… it is just extra weight and will do you no good when it is needed.

Knowledge: Do you have a good working knowledge of animal husbandry, gardening, advanced first aid, medicinal plants of your area, raising chickens, goats & rabbits, making alcohol, auto repair, or other issues important to a “back to the earth” standard of living”? If not, fill in the gaps with books. Real Books!!! Make a list of those things that you believe you might need to know in order to survive. An agrarian society demands skill sets that are very different from today’s push button electronic life.

Communication: Do you want to be able to communicate with people in remote locations? “Remote” can be a mile away or as far as the next state or country. Communication abilities will be important if members of your group have to forage or hunt away from the compound on a regular basis. FRS (Family Radio Service) transceivers are inexpensive but have limited range. They also require batteries. Solar chargers are inexpensive and can keep your rechargeable batteries ready for use. Perhaps you want to listen to what is being said. If so, a multiband receiver will be your tool. Again, they run on batteries. Buy a good one as what you are able to hear may make a difference in your planning at any given time.

Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbors: Your relationship with everyone will change. If they know you are a Prepper, they will file that fact away and, when the worst happens, be the first ones to knock on your door. They will be seeking asylum. When they find out you are prepping, they will consider you a bit of a nut case. However, if the time comes to put it all to use , they will think of you as a genius. Do not consider a liaison with anyone that will not invest in prepping. If they are not prepared to “bring something substantial to the common table” then they should not benefit from your efforts when times get tough. If they bring with them skills, abilities, or other things that complement or complete your planning, make your decision to allow them to join you with care. Loyalty is transient. This will be a hard thing to do but it is absolutely necessary if you and yours are to survive. Beware of strangers; allow no one to approach or enter your home site with a weapon. Never allow more than one person of a group to come near. Never confront an intruder alone if possible. Always confront unknowns with a loaded weapon.

Know your area: People that live in rural areas are usually very familiar with the surrounding roads, buildings, homes, farms, etc. People that live in large metropolitan areas know the same things about their immediate community, but in all likelihood are unfamiliar with the surrounding areas. Regardless of which one you are, you should have an accurate paper map of your immediate and surrounding areas. DO not depend on your vehicles GPS or mapping to guide you. Know the traffic patterns of where you live. If your planning includes a bug out location, map the best (though not necessarily shortest) route out with alternates if that way is impassible. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full at all times. Know how many miles you can get on a tank of fuel. Identify problem areas close to you escape routes.

Plan B: What is a “plan B”? It is the “what if” factor that should be at least considered and thought about. Not everyone will need a plan B; it depends somewhat on their individualized overall plan for survival happens to be. Each person will have a plan B that can be implemented if their primary plans go awry. It may be as simple as opening the best bottle of wine and enjoying the last few moments of life. It may be holding your loved ones close. It might be a bug out plan for when the fortress is being breached and the hordes are in sight. It’s important, but if you’ve made your prepping plans based on thoughtful consideration, then your plan B might be less important.

Everyone that has begun to give Prepping a serious look has been confronted with the same problem: There is so much information and misinformation being passed around that it can be intimidating. Where do I begin??? I have set down my thoughts based on my planning and experiences. I have tried to not give specific details on how much to buy, what to buy, what to store, how to store it all, where to go, or a host of other things. Those things can be easily found on the internet. My goal in writing this was to give you a list of the questions you need to ask, and honestly answer for yourself. Do that, and you will find that your planning is much easier. Define your situation, based on that you should make a list of what you need, prioritize those needs, and then methodically go about filling the list. There is not a single plan is right for everyone. I hope this helps.


JP in MT June 21, 2013 at 11:17 am

Good article.

At this point we have been at this about 8 years steady, 13 if you count with we first decided to do “something”. I’ve made some mistakes, had stuff go bad, bought junk, but kept at it.

We have pretty well settled on weapons/ammo and food types. We still keep adding to both as prices and availability allow. Most of our equipment is in (for this location anyway) and we are now looking at spares and duplicates of items that work (although at $400+ another Country Mill grinder will have to wait). Clothes are pretty much settled, as our sizes will do nothing but get smaller.

Our biggest issue is expanding to meet the growing number that we will be supporting. Were good with the 2 of us. As family (blood and other) gets added, needs go up. We also want to go longer without outside help (no telling when resupply of anything will be available). Stocking up on those things that are not available locally (fruits over vegetables, spices over meat, that type of thing), is also a focus.

I do have to say that doing without the daily “news” has helped me be less worried. I focus on what we can do, and don’t worry about the rest.

I agree with this article’s main point….without a plan, it’s a crap shoot. Make a plan, modify as needed, and stay on track!

John June 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Good advice! Regarding having only one caliber – good when bugging out due to weight / space considerations. However, even before the shtf I find having a range of firearms of various calibers keeps me in ammo even when one or two are in short supply or not available.

Additionally, having a range may become even more valuable for the purposes of trade.

The Ready Rooikat June 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm

We are working on the Fortress and Water parts, right now. There is a lake down the street, pretty much a lifetime supply of water, but it needs to be filtered. That’s my Wife’s project.

We are also constantly expanding our friends list. It astounds me how many people call themselves preppers now, in everyday conversation, but back in the day, we survivalists were all crazy in the common culture. Eve Costco sells ‘prepper’ stuff, now, and calls it such.

Tom B June 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm

>>Costco sells ‘prepper’ stuff, now, and calls it such.<<

That's a great sign, isn't it? CostCo figures that their customer demographic includes a meaningful number of people who realize they should be prepared and are willing to spend some money and storage space to do so.

The trend to 'just in time' supplies to stores cuts inventory costs, but it increases vulnerability to supply line disruptions. A lot of CostConians seem to have figured that out, are are doing something about it.

Water barrels, pallets of storage food with 11,352 servings, generators, tons of stuff.

They aren't perfect, but they are on our side.

The thrifty Rooikat June 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm

And… we can save some money!

What I like is, since the stuff is available at Costco, it looks more ‘mainstream’.
The water barrels are what peaked my interest.

Tom B June 23, 2013 at 3:06 am

>>it looks more ‘mainstream’.<<

It doesn't just look more mainstream, Thrifty, it IS more mainstream.

Yes, water barrels are for those pretty serious about prepping. And entire pallets of long term storage food? 11,352 servings at a crack? Holey Moley! No one buys that kind of stuff unless they are serious, even if they have such incomes that $3500 is just another of several insurance policies.

I'm not sure whether to be delighted (yes, I am, of course) or a little concerned that so many people are getting worried. In a way, it would be reassuring to think that we are just another part of the tin foil hat brigade, but so far as I know, CostCo doesn't cater to that demographic.

So I guess quite a few people are getting worried. Maybe mostly as a result of Hurricane Katrina, but a lot of mainstream people seem to be building redundancy and flexibility into their home supplies. Food, water, generators, major first aid kits, flashlights, LED lanterns, batteries.

Pretty much everything but fighting shotguns and assault rifles. And wouldn't THOSE frost Dick's Sporting Goods?

This has to be a good thing.

S'wt Tater June 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Good article, well written.
It took me several months to fully work thru these questions…because of changes in the numbers and the expenses involved for each catagory of necessity.
I was surprized when I took stock of things on hand, from common living skills and traits I had gained as a child and young adult.
Heads up, younger generation… Listen to Grandma, Grandpa, and the other elders in your life, get them to talk about the difficulties they faced while growing up, how they survived their difficult times.
Learn the skills needed. Remember that many of our fancy, electronic gadgets have replacements, especially if you get sunshine many days of the year..Two examples, a car interior can be used to dehydrate food, and an oven, solar, can be made using what is today common supplies.
Think beyound the box…each of us can have some level of security for ourself and those we love.

Big Bear June 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Hi all,

I wrote the piece above about Prepping Points and have to say that I hope my prepping is better than my editing! Sorry for the typos and other errors. I originally wrote this as a guide for my beginning prepper friends that were overloaded by all the information (and misinformation) out there. Barely a week goes by that I don’t learn something new and spend some time re-evaluating our position. Plan, critique your plan, re-plan, criticize your own plan, and know your weaknesses. Hope my article helps.

Linda June 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Thank you for a good general article to remind people to think about covering all their bases. If I might add a suggestion: we might all put some thought into how to be stealthy about preparing food, sterilizing water, having indoor light at night, providing ventilation during summer heat and guarding our properties.

Sending up a big plume of meat-scented smoke from the big gas grill on your back patio is probably not a good idea in a grid-down situation unless you are hosting an open house cookout for the whole neighborhood. Running a noisy generator that disturbs your neighbors at night or having every window blazing with light from your oil lamps or battery lanterns are probably not good ideas either. Roaming around your yard with rifle at night while wearing a lighted headlamp and no eye protection against low hanging branches is probably not the wisest move either

Consider the value of a solar oven — it doesn’t produce a plume of smoke or give off cooking odors. Make some blackout curtains or just tape some aluminum foil over those windows that can be seen from the street to help hide your indoor light during a prolonged power outage. Have a couple of hidden positions where you and another armed family member can do night watch without making yourself a target — night vision equipment or just some kind of basic eye protection are great when operating at night. Consider how to deter illegal entry if you must leave some windows open for ventilation during hot weather. Something as simple as some squares of sturdy iron mesh, from the hardware store, bolted to the exterior of the house over those ground floor windows you must keep open could be a temporary solution during an emergency.

And don’t be like an idiot neighbor I once had who the during the two-night power outage following an earth quake one summer, cranked up his very noisy small generator each night, opened up his garage door from which blazed powerful spotlights on stands lighting up the street (and a lot of the nearby houses) and had his big stereo speakers blasting out rock music until the wee hours of the morning. This is a very good way to invite getting shot by a sleep-deprived and irate neighbor who has to keep his windows open when there is no air conditioning.

RedC June 21, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I like the way this article starts with the readers’ needs & helps the reader identify their needs, instead of giving one-size-fits-all advice. Thanks for a very good article.

OhioPrepper June 21, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Good list for beginners and good thoughts for those who are not. Never hurts to go over your list once in a while, and watch how it changes.

TG June 21, 2013 at 11:39 pm

These are some great questions, and ones I have been thinking about.

I have really realized that my location is horrible. I have known it for a long time, but recently it has really been bothering me.
Its too hot. In the texas heat and humidity, without power, I would not last long. Especially when it doesnt cool down at night.
Gardening is a study in trial and error, and I really dont feel like it is a viable long term solution where I am at, especially since I dont have a lot of room for it
There is a water source less then a mile from me, but I still havent taken time to find out if it is fresh or salt water. Either way its not clean, so would require a good amount of time to clean it.
Location is crappy. Its not defensible. Some of the neighbors would probably be ok, others not so much. I have a really bad neighborhood just south of me, and our location would push people north. Thinking about it,there are also a couple of drunks right up the road from me, and the cops have been there several times due to fights.
Time to move. We have a location south of the border that sounds better and better every day.

Ok, I started rambling there, sorry. These are questions we need to think about. It will help us prep for our own situation rather then someone else’s.

Suedaprepperlady June 22, 2013 at 12:53 am

And, if I may just add this thought…..redundancy, redundancy, redundancy! Having a lake close by for your water needs is great—unless it is taken over by others who chose not to share, etc….we have three different sources of water, and then we have water stored…..jmho :) HAve a great week, pack!

franko June 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Great post, I mean really great. It made me think and I won’t comment on the specifics because I believe its aim was just that, to make me re-think every step I have taken to prepare and I will cover the topics with pen and paper and my own list.

Last night I had a long chat with an old friend who I have been discussing survivalism with for 8 years or more. He goes along with everthing but doesn’t do anything, No plans, No preps. Anyway we discussed generators and got into an hour long talk about fuel and I came to the conclusion that in a SHTF I would not use mine. There were many reasons not to, alerting neighbours I had gas, etc, but the most compelling in my mind was that gasoline will be very precious then and I would not want to waste it even to keeping a freezer running.

It’s good to think and re-thing everything.

Becky June 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Hope you do not mind but I printed this article to share with my sister. She does not have internet at their home, so the only time she can get on the net is at their place of business on her days off from her other job.
Hopefully it will motivate them to see what they are missing and what we as a family need to work towards. Good article, shall be reading it again, and mark the area’s we need to concentrate on for the survival of the family.

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