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There was a time, not that long ago, when preppers were looked at as tinfoil hat wearers. They were often the punchline of jokes and considered hoarders or outright crazies. And then the toilet paper and cleaning supplies ran out. The shelves holding flour, sugar, and cornmeal were empty. The only canned goods available were pickled beets. And pasta? Fuhgettaboutit! Prepping suddenly went from being weird to being smart. But what can you do today to start prepping?
If you’re still working on getting started with your preparedness efforts, this post is for you. If you’ve been prepping for years, this post may give you some good ideas, or even better, add your ideas to the comments. In case of the next toilet paper shortage, the more people with supplies already on hand, the less strain on our fragile “just in time” inventory system. And while toilet paper isn’t mentioned in my top 5, it really is a good idea to keep an extra roll on hand. I think we’ve all learned that lesson!
The Top 5 Things You Can Do Today to Start Prepping
The first thing you should focus on when you start prepping is water. It’s recommended that you have one gallon of water per person, per day. Ready.gov suggests 3 days’ worth of water; FEMA now recommends two weeks. This 16-page PDF from FEMA has information on food and water, including emergency water sources. Buying water already in containers is fine for short term needs (so you have something instead of nothing), but the thin gallon jugs do not hold up for long-term storage. In the past, I’ve collected large soda and juice containers (they’re a thicker plastic), but I now prefer these stackable 5-gallon containers or these larger water tanks.
It’s also a good idea to have plain bleach for purifying, tincture of iodine (five drops per quart when the water is clear, and add ren drops per quart when the water is cloudy), water purifying tablets, or a LifeStraw on hand so you can purify additional water as needed.
2. Have at Least Two Weeks of Easy-to-Prepare Foods
Keeping easy to prepare foods on hand can make a huge difference in an emergency. And in today’s world of lockdowns, shopping less often makes sense. While I do have some of these items in my pantry, I prefer to keep a Heat-and-Eat Bin stocked and ready to use at all times. This bin is full of easy-to-prepare foods such as canned fished, beans, vegetables, and assorted soups, as well as dry food like instant oatmeal, granola bars, and nuts. I also like to include dehydrated backpacking meals. (Want to learn how to dehydrate your own healthy food? Learn all you need to know here!)
Also, be sure you have a way to cook food and heat up water in case the power goes out, such as a camping stove, backpacker’s stove, rocket stove, wood stove, etc. If you have a gas or propane range in your home, it’s possible (even likely in the case of propane) the fuel will still feed to the stove but the electricity operated ignitor will not work. You can light the burner with a match or lighter. Gas ovens do not work in the same manner and should not be relied on if the power goes out. Unless, like me, you have a specialty oven that runs on batteries and both the burners and oven can be lit manually.
3. Home Security
Having a safe and secure home is so important! Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Another quick, easy, and inexpensive thing you can do is replace all your door screws with 3” to 4” screws. After looking over the basics, what else can you do to improve your home’s security? Here’s a list of ideas to get you started. While not all are suitable for everyone, many are great common sense suggestions. One example is #13: Don’t put a picture of your key on Facebook! Did you know you can copy a house key with only a photo? Crazy.
4. Be Prepared to Leave at a Moment’s Notice
Having a bug-out bag (or 72-hour bag) prepared for each of your family members will ensure that you are prepared to leave at a moment’s notice while still having the necessities you need. Many types of emergencies can cause a need to evacuation. With some, like hurricanes, you may have several days’ notice. Others may require immediate evacuation. Last fall, the Mullin Fire caused many Wyomingites to need to immediately leave their home. Some had only a minutes to gather their essentials and leave.
I prefer to make my out bug-out bags so they can be specific to my family, but you can also purchase premade bags. While backpacks are convenient for packing and are essential if you’re likely to be walking, in most instances, you’ll be evacuating by car. My Heat-and-Eat Bin is also easy to grab and stash in the vehicle. Extra food could be extremely helpful.
5. Have a Plan
Another important thing to do when you start prepping is to have a plan for what your family should do in emergencies. Discuss what situations would require you to leave your home, and decide where you’d go. And if you plan to bug-in and stay at your home, what is your plan for keeping your family safe?
As part of your planning, discuss what to do if the emergency happens when away from home. It’s also a good idea to have a get-home bag or an Everyday Carry Bag in case something happens while you’re at work, grocery shopping, or even vacationing. Having a plan, and knowing the plan, is important.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty. ~ Proverbs 21:5
What do you think the first things are that someone should do to start prepping? Leave a comment below!
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