Not every situation that requires you to be prepped is a doomsday scenario. There are 3 common emergencies that could happen to anyone, but all of the racket from the bunker in Survivalistland can sometimes drown them out. This can make getting started pretty intimidating, paralyzing, even.
Maybe you’re brand new to prepping and not sure where to start. (Hint: Start here.) Maybe you aren’t really interested in emergency preparedness but your well-meaning in-laws keep sending you links to websites about the topic. Maybe you go to those websites and you see so much doom and gloom that you immediately exit. Maybe you say to yourself, “Holy cow, no! I’m not one of those crazy Doomsday Preppers!” Maybe you’re the in-law sending the articles and you’re looking for a tamer article to send.
If any of the above apply, then this post is for you. It’s chock-full of links, supplies, resources, and information for those who are new to preparedness that may not be ready to dive in 100% just yet.
Prepping for Beginners (and Non-Preppers Who Like to be Sensible)
It’s all about what I like to call “prepping-lite”. It’s for people who aren’t into apocalypse scenarios but who are sensible enough to realize that, well, stuff happens. Remember, prepping doesn’t mean you’re a doom-and-gloomer. It’s actually the ultimate act of optimism!
There are three types of common emergencies that can strike nearly anyone. These don’t require that you systematically pick apart every episode of The Walking Dead so you can figure out how to survive the impending zombie pandemic. They simply require that you flip on the news every now and then and see that these are everyday situations that can happen to us all. And since you are wise enough to accept that these things are realistically things that could, at some point, affect you, I hope you’ll take that wisdom one step further and prepare for them.
The last year was a bad one for water emergencies. Remember the chemical spill in West Virginia that left hundreds of thousands of residents without safe water for a more than a week? The toxin in the water was so potent that it couldn’t be used for bathing or basic cleaning, much less consumption. Shortly after that, more than half a million people in Cleveland, Ohio were left without running water because agricultural runoff caused and algae bloom that tainted the municipal water supply.
In both of those situations, store shelves were rapidly emptied of water in every form. Families who didn’t make it to the store on time were left to drive for hours to find water, or to wait while the National Guard rationed out bottles. In either case, some water preparedness could have eased the crisis. Here’s what the average family can do to prepare for a water crisis:
- Fill containers and store them. Be sure to opt for food-safe containers that did not hold milk or juice, as this can cause a bacteria growth in your stored water.
- Store some 5 gallon water bottles. Be sure to either have a top-loading dispenser or a manual pump for ease of using the water in the event that the crisis goes hand-in-hand with a power outage.
- Get a gravity water filter. (I have the Big Berkey.) We also carry these small Sawyer mini-filters in our every day carry kits.
After the abundance of snow that has fallen this year, most of the United States can relate to the possibility of a storm affecting day-to-day life. People have been watching store shelves get cleared, digging their way out from under several feet of the white stuff, and getting stranded at home for days at a time. Even worse are the hurricanes and superstorms that cripple entire regions of the country, taking out power lines, damaging roadways, and shutting down businesses.
To be prepared for a weather emergency, you should have the following:
Water and water purification supplies
See the section above.
Food and a way to cook it
There are two schools of thought regarding food during a power outage. One: you need a cooking method that does not require the grid to be functioning. Two: you can store food that doesn’t require cooking. If you opt for a secondary cooking method, be sure that you have enough fuel to last for a while. Store foods that do not require long cooking times – for example, dried beans would use a great deal of fuel, but canned beans could be warmed up, or even eaten cold. A rocket stove that can use many different types of fuel is an excellent and flexible choice. The Volcano 3 is an excellent quality choice, and Swiss Army stove is an inexpensive choice for those on a tight budget.
- Learn how to build a 1-month food supply fast.
- Here is a short-term food storage list.
- Here is a list of foods that require no cooking.
Heating or cooling without electricity
If your power outage takes place in the winter and you live in a colder climate, heat is another necessity. During the first 24 hours after a power outage, you can stay fairly warm if you block off one room of the house for everyone to group together in. Keep the door closed and keep a towel or blanket folded along the bottom of the door to conserve warmth. You can safely burn a couple of candles also, and in the enclosed space, your body heat will keep it relatively warm. As well, dress in layers and keep everything covered – wear a hat, gloves (fingerless ones allow you to still function), and a scarf.
However, after about 48 hours, that’s not going to be enough in very cold weather. You will require back-up heat at this point in certain climates. If you are lucky enough to have a source of heat like a fireplace or woodstove, you’ll be just fine as long as you have a supply of wood.
Consider a portable indoor-safe propane heater (and propane) or an oil heater. You have to be very careful what type of backup heat you plan on using, as many of them can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if used in a poorly ventilated area. Make sure to have CO monitors that will work without electrical power.
- Learn how to stay warm with less heat.
- Learn more about off-grid heat options.
- Learn more about keeping cool without air conditioning.
- Learn how to build an off-grid “air conditioner”.
Lighting is absolutely vital, especially if there are children in the house. Nothing is more frightening than being completely in the dark during a stressful situation. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest things to plan for, as well as one of the least expensive.
Some lighting solutions are:
- Garden stake solar lights
- Long-burning candles
- Kerosene lamp and fuel
- Flashlights (don’t forget batteries)
- Hand crank/solar lantern
- Don’t forget matches or lighters
Tools and supplies
Some basic items will make your life much easier during an emergency. Here are some things that are essential in the event of a power outage:
- Lighter/waterproof matches
- Batteries in various sizes
- Manual can opener
- Basic tools: Pliers, screwdriver, wrench, hammer
- Duct tape
- Super glue
- Sewing kit
- Bungee cords
If you’d like to expand on the basic supplies, a more detailed list of tools and hardware can be found HERE.
This is very different from the other types of emergencies. It’s undeniable that our country has seen an economic downturn that shows little sign of improvement on the horizon. Many people have suffered their own personal economic downturns due to job loss, unemployment or a higher cost of living. As well, smaller emergencies can crop up. Maybe your refrigerator gives its last hurrah. Maybe your car’s transmission gives up the ghost. There are all sorts of issues that can cause money to be in short supply.
We had our own personal economic crisis 5 years ago when I lost my job. I was unable to find a new job right away, and had to wait more than two months for my first unemployment check to arrive. Luckily, I had a full pantry and linen closet, as well as a small emergency fund stashed away. The full pantry meant that I didn’t need to take money from my emergency fund for things like groceries, shampoo, and school supplies. The emergency fund meant that I could still keep the utilities on and pay the mortgage even though money wasn’t coming in.
To face a possible personal economic crisis, buy extra food and supplies that you normally use when you see them on sale, and put them back for a rainy day. Consider making some adjustments to live more frugally so that you can put a rainy day fund away. Hopefully disaster never strikes, and you simply have a savings account and some extra supplies.
For more information…
Does this sound pretty sensible? If you can see the logic behind being ready for these scenarios, you might be interested in taking the next step. First, check out this list of 10 things the beginning prepper should do.
If so, I have a book to recommend. My very favorite preparedness book is The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Through Any Disaster, by my friend Tess Pennington. It is an absolute compendium of information that takes you from the very beginning steps towards preparedness to full-fledged self-reliance.
A little note from Daisy
For those of you who have been at this for a while, please use the comments section to share your suggestions for those who are dipping their feet into the pond. As well, if you have some loved ones whom you would like to see more prepared, send them a link to this article or share it on your social media! If you are brand new at this, don’t be shy! Ask questions in the comments section below. You’re sure to get some great answers from the preparedness community. Happy prepping!