Estimated reading time: 18 minutes
Prepping isn’t just for SHTF or a zombie apocalypse or even TEOTWAWKI. Prepping is for everyday problems, normal emergencies, and worldwide events. The year 2020 will go down in history as the year of the global pandemic.
But it isn’t just the Covid-19 virus that was a problem. All over the world, as communities grappled with the effects of the virus, there were shortages of groceries, interruptions in supply chains, layoffs, and money shortages. It was hard to get toilet paper, meat, and basic supplies. Stores and restaurants closed and there was a global bicycle shortage.
Other reasons to prep include power outages, snowstorms, hurricanes, and even the stomach flu, all of which can hamper your ability to cook, go to the store, or even go to work and earn money. Prepping prepares you for all kinds of events, which means you don’t need to panic when bad things happen. You can likely ride out the problems from the comfort of your own home.
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For beginners, it just takes getting started and making progress one step at a time. Here are 50 beginner survival tips every prepper should know.
1. Get Out Of Debt
A financial crisis is one of the most likely disasters we face in the coming years. If the economy enters a deflationary downward spiral as it did during the Great Depression, having a lot of debt will put you in a terrible position.
Due to all the money printing, we may also have hyperinflation, and some preppers are taking on massive debt with the assumption that their debt will be wiped out, but please don’t do this. There’s no way of knowing for sure what will happen, and it’s not worth the risk.
2. Build An Emergency Fund
Before you get out of debt, save $1000. Once you are out of debt, save at least another 3 months’ worth of income. I know this is easier said than done. Doing this could take years, but there’s no reason not to get started right away. To help you out, here’s how you can lower your bills.
3. Get A Bug Out Bag
I know this site is all about surviving in the city, but there are certain disasters that could force you to relocate. Just in case that happens, you should make a bug out bag.
4. Store Some Water
No one can go more than 3 days without water so this should be a top priority. If you haven’t started storing water, take a look at this article.
5. Learn To Garden
There’s always a chance the next disaster could last longer than your food cache. In this case, gardening could be a very valuable skill. Even if you don’t have enough space to grow a lot of food, you can still trade this skill with people who can help you in other ways. Here’s how to start a survival garden.
6. Gather Important Documents
I’m talking about birth certificates, the deed to your house, your driver’s license, your marriage license, insurance policies, passports, social security cards, vehicle titles, and any other important documents.
Make copies, put them in water-proof freezer bags, and keep them with your emergency supplies. Better yet, make a grab-and-go binder.
7. Create A Survival Library
You probably won’t be able to learn everything you need to know before the next disaster strikes. And if the power is out or the Internet is down, you won’t be able to Google whatever you need to know, so buy some books or print important articles and put them in a three-ring binder.
8. Learn First Aid
9. Research Your Area
Figure out what is most likely to happen based on where you live. For example, I live on the gulf coast, so hurricanes are a major concern.
What sort of natural disasters might happen where you live? Are there any train tracks where dangerous chemicals are transported? Is there a prison nearby from which inmates could escape? Prepare accordingly.
10. Plan Your Evacuation Route
If you have no choice but to evacuate, you need to know exactly where to meet your loved ones and which way you’re going to take out of town. Get several maps and mark the routes that are least likely to be crowded. You should also plan a way to get home during a disaster.
11. Refill Your Gas Tank When It’s Half-Empty
Yes, you’ll have to stop at the gas station more frequently, but if that bothers you, just think about how much you’ll regret it if the gas stations are tapped and you’re running on empty.
12. Conduct Disaster Drills
Also known as a survival stress test. The more you do this, the less likely you and your loved ones are to panic when there’s a real disaster. Try to make it fun. Imagine a different type of disaster each time. You’ll fare much better if everyone knows exactly what to do.
13. Add To Your Food Cache Every Week
Every time you go grocery shopping, grab some extras. Just make sure they’re things that will store well and that you’ll eat, disaster or no. If you do this weekly, your food supplies will add up fast. Just don’t make these food storage mistakes.
14. Visit Your Neighbors
You don’t have to become best buddies with them, but there is a huge psychological difference between an acquaintance and a total stranger. If you’ve visited with your neighbors at least a few times, they’re far more likely to help you and far less likely to attack you.
15. Buy Used Supplies
It’s amazing the kind of deals you can find if you just look. I’m not just talking about flea markets. You can find some great stuff on Craigslist. If you’re on Facebook, try joining some local yard sale groups. My wife has found a lot of good deals that way.
16. Don’t Tell People About Your Plans
Anyone who knows about your survival supplies will think of you first when the SHTF. They might leave you alone at first, but if they get hungry enough they will turn into animals. Here’s what to do if they find out anyway.
17. Start Exercising
You don’t need to be able to run a marathon, but you need to at least be able to walk long distances and carry heavy objects around without getting totally wiped out. Here are some basic tips for getting in shape.
18. Learn To Purify Water
There are several ways to do this, and I encourage you to practice lots of them so you won’t have to refer to books when the time comes.
19. Put a 72-Hour Kit In Your Car
If you’re at work 40 hours a week, there’s a 24% chance the next major disaster will happen while you’re there. It’s even higher if you count time spent on the road or time you spend out during the evenings and weekends. Put together a bug out bag ASAP.
20. Store Some Powerless Entertainment
Even if you do all your reading on a Kindle or tablet, get some paperbacks. You can get them for pennies nowadays. Also get some cards, crossword puzzles, games that don’t require batteries, Sudoku books, etc. This might not seem important now, but during TEOTWAWKI, it will be critical for everyone’s sanity.
21. Get Ready For Cold Weather
Cold is just as deadly—if not more deadly—than heat. Make sure you have extra blankets, coats, sweaters, thermal underwear, and other winter survival items.
22. Rotate Your Food
You don’t want to know how much food I had to throw away after my first year of prepping. I panicked and bought several things that ended up untouched in the back of the closet. By the time I got them out, they had already passed the expiration date. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Survivalism 101: Store what you eat, eat what you store.
23. Store Foods You Like
Having a case of Spam in the closet might give you some peace of mind, but when you actually have to eat it, you’re going to wish you’d bought more foods that you like.
Before you buy food storage over the Internet, request some samples. And before you buy cases of food at Costco, get a single box or can at the grocery store and try it out. And don’t forget comfort foods.
24. Learn More Survival Skills
For yourself, you’ll need skills like building fires, purifying water, dressing wounds, and so forth, but also try to imagine the kinds of skills that might be valuable during a long-term disaster. These are skills you can trade with others. (For example, you fix my car and I’ll help you with your garden.)
25. Go Camping With Friends/Family
Not only is this really fun, but you’ll get a chance to practice some of your survival skills.
26. Get Some Good Multipurpose Tools
You can’t have a tool belt, much less a toolbox, slowing you down during a disaster, so find a good multipurpose tool you can keep on you at all times. Also, look for other types of multipurpose devices such as a flashlight with a built-in radio.
27. Learn How To Hunt And Fish
Even if you already know how to hunt and fish, make sure you know how to clean and butcher all sorts of animals. Here’s how to build a survival fishing kit.
28. Don’t Be Wasteful
We’re all so spoiled by the fact that we can throw anything in the trash and a truck will come along every week to take it away. Learn to start reusing items such as plastic bottles, glass jars, and newspapers. Here are a few more ideas.
29. Learn To Cook Without Power
Many people are so reliant on their microwaves and stoves that they have no idea how to cook a meal without them. Of course, there’s always the grill, but the smell could attract hungry looters, and what if you run out of charcoal or propane? Check out my ultimate guide to cooking without power.
When people become aware of just how fragile our civilization is, they tend to panic. Don’t do it. Panic will cause you to make rash decisions or to feel overwhelmed and give up.
Will the next major disaster be tomorrow? No, probably not. Will there be a major disaster in your area in the next few years? It’s very possible. The point is, you should have a healthy sense of urgency, but don’t feel like you’re already out of time. Keep living your life and work on your preps a little bit every day, but don’t forget to relax.
31. Take Care Of Your Physical Health
A trip to the doctor and dentist will help you be physically healthy. You don’t want to go into a disaster or emergency situation in bad health and have it get worse because you can’t see a doctor when you need to. You’ll be better off if you take care of any health issues before they become a big problem.
32. Weatherize Your Home And Take Care Of Major Repairs
If you are forced to shelter in place, you’ll want to do so in a home that is warm, safe, and secure. Don’t put off those pesky repairs. Get the windows caulked, finish that insulation project, and repair the French drain in case of flooding. If you’re without power, your home will be much easier to keep warm or cool if it has been weatherized and repaired.
33. Keep Your Vehicle In Good Shape
You don’t want your car to break down in the middle of an evacuation, so make sure it is in good running order. Keep the oil changed, the windshield wipers in good shape, and the fluids topped off so you are always ready to go.
34. Keep Repair Supplies Handy
If you have the space, consider keeping extra home repair supplies on hand. Plywood and lumber, hammer and nails, rope, duct tape, and even a staple gun can help you make repairs in a hurry. A spare tarp can temporarily fix a leaking roof. A wet vac can help dry up a flooded basement.
If a window breaks in a bad storm, the last thing you want to do is have to run to the store for plywood. You could even talk to a local handyman about what the most common repairs are so you can be prepared.
35. Keep Extra Medication On Hand
If you have medications you need for life-sustaining purposes, ask your doctor to help you have some extra on hand for emergencies. If a snowstorm hits and you can’t get to the pharmacy, you could really suffer or possibly even die without the medication that you need.
36. Learn To Barter
If money gets tight, you might need to barter for the things you need. Learning to barter will help you be able to trade items you have for the items you want.
There are a number of barter and trade websites where you can practice. Things such as eggs, alcohol, tools, and any number of things could be worth trading for food and other supplies during an emergency situation.
37. Invest In Livestock
If your township permits, keeping a few chickens in your yard can go a long way towards getting you through an emergency. Chickens can supply eggs and, if needed, meat to keep your family supplied with protein.
If you can’t have chickens, you might be able to have ducks. Quail are small enough to keep indoors, even if you live in an apartment. If you have a yard, you might want a couple of milk goats, as well. They make great pets and are fun to train. Small livestock can be a great source of food and entertainment during difficult times.
38. Make A Plan For Your Pets
Don’t forget to plan for your pets in an emergency. Keep an emergency kit for your pets and make a plan for what to do in case you have to evacuate. You might be able to take your dog or cat along to a shelter, but what about your chickens or your horse? Keep a little extra food on hand for them, as well.
39. Invest In Solar
You don’t have to be completely off-grid to take advantage of solar power. Companies such as Bio-Lite sell solar lights and chargers that are affordable and easy to use. And there are lots of other solar gadgets worth looking into.
Even if your electricity is only off for a couple of days due to a bad storm, it sure is nice to have some extra lights or an easy way to charge your cell phone or tablet. A couple of small panels, a battery, and some lights will go a long way toward adding a little bit of comfort to a dark night.
40. Plant A Food Forest
Growing your own food is easier than you might think with a food forest. David the Good, of TheSurvivalGardener.com, has lots of advice to make planting a food forest easy and inexpensive.
For a small investment, you can have fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and perennials that will feed your family with little work. If you choose varieties that are native to your location, they will be easy to grow and take very little work after they are established. For more ideas, here’s how to create an edible food forest.
41. Learn To Forage
There are many dangerous, toxic plants that can make you sick if you eat them. However, there is food all around us if we know which plants we can eat safely.
Taking a reputable food foraging class will teach you how to identify foods that you can find in your yard and local forests that are safe and delicious. Never eat anything that you cannot identify as being edible. The risks are too great.
42. Get A Generator
If you have the space to keep it, a generator can be indispensable when the power is out. Make sure to get one that will have enough power to run everything you need such as your refrigerator, lights, and chargers. If you have a well, you might need a bigger generator and a special hookup so you can have fresh water when the lights go out.
43. Stock Up On Toilet Paper
If the pandemic of 2020 taught us anything, it might be that good toilet paper is hard to find. Due to the large numbers of people staying home and the broken supply chains, toilet paper and cleaning supplies became very hard to get. Stay ahead of the curve and stock up, so you don’t have to go to the store and panic buy.
You don’t have to be a hoarder, but do keep some extra toilet paper and hygiene items on hand. Alternatively, you can grow your own TP. You can also make a basic cleaning spray from a little vinegar, water, and essential oil.
44. Keep Your Batteries And Electronics Charged
It’s no fun to grapple through the house in the dark and try to use the restroom or kitchen without any light. Keep your flashlights and lanterns charged up with new, fresh batteries. Make sure you have extra batteries in an easily accessible place. Keep your cell phones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic gadgets charged up, as well.
If you’re without power for a few hours or a few days, you might need to keep them on low power mode to preserve battery for emergencies. However, if you keep them charged up, you can at least use your tablet as a source of entertainment and information. And you certainly can’t call the electric company to inform them of the outage if your cell phone battery has died.
So keep everything charged and ready to go. Have a backup plan to recharge your electronics, such as mobile chargers, solar chargers, or even your vehicle if it is safe to do so.
45. Make Sure Your Woodstove, Fireplace, and Chimney Are Cleaned And In Good Working Order
You don’t want to end up with a chimney fire or a broken wood stove just when you need it most. Keep your chimneys well maintained and have them cleaned regularly. Don’t forget to keep a good stash of firewood handy at all times for heating your house and even for some old school cooking.
46. Try Out Some Old School Skills
Sewing, reading maps, using a compass, chopping firewood, starting a fire without matches and other old school skills should be practiced on a regular basis. You’ll have more confidence knowing you have these abilities at your fingertips and you’ll be able to relax and be more flexible.
47. Teach Your Kids
Kids need to learn to be prepared, too! Simple things like keeping their bedrooms clean, helping with basic chores, and learning survival skills will help your kids learn to be safe and not scared in tough situations. They’ll gain a lot of confidence from things like camping and gardening, and it’s amazing how much they can help you when it’s needed.
Image: Father Teaching Daughter To Build A Fire
48. Keep Your Preps Organized
Being prepared won’t do you any good if you can’t find what you need when you need it. Even if you aren’t the most organized person in the world, you can find ways to keep your preps stored in an organized manner. At the very least, put like items together in well-labeled tubs so you always know where they are.
49. Store Your Preps Safely
Put careful consideration into where and how you need to store your safety and food items. The basement may be the most logical choice, but even dry basements can flood in a hurricane or an unusually heavy rainstorm.
You don’t want to waste all your time, money, and effort to have your items destroyed by a surprise emergency. Be sure firearms are stored properly to prevent devasting accidents, as well.
50. Practice A Can-Do Attitude
One of the most important pieces of surviving any kind of emergency is your attitude. A positive, hopeful attitude will help you stay calm and think clearly even when things are tough.
If you’re well prepared and have a good attitude, most of the ‘emergencies’ you will face will be a minor inconvenience and an opportunity to have more family time.
Bonus Tips: Incorporate Preparedness As Part Of Your Everyday Life
Don’t prep all at once and then forget about it. Keep a preparedness mindset as you live your life. Putting away tools when you are done with them will mean they are in the right spot if you need to find them in a hurry. Rotating your food storage means the food you have on hand will always be fresh and not expired. Keeping everyday items stocked up will prevent you from having to run to the store at the last minute.
Keeping your eyes on the future will help you figure out what you can do today to make tomorrow even better.
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