Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
So you’ve decided to become a prepper. Maybe you’ve been putting it off for a long time and now you’ve made a new year’s resolution to get started. Maybe a friend or family member went through a personal disaster like a burglary or bankruptcy and it got you thinking. Maybe you looked at the latest crop of U.S. presidential candidates and it made you worried about the future.
Whatever your reason, you’ve made a good decision. Not only will prepping vastly improve your chances of surviving a major disaster, it will grant you peace of mind while everything is still okay. But where should you begin? There are literally hundreds of survival items you’ll want to get. However, you don’t want to do a panic shopping run and buy a bunch of things you don’t actually need.
Prepping is about building up a supply of goods a little at a time. You can’t do it all at once because it’s not a one-time thing—it’s a lifestyle. You’ll need to make several long-term goals, and you should keep in mind that you’ll never actually be done. However, there are many people who would like to get a running start. That way if a disaster does happen in the near future, they won’t be too late.
This post is for those people. It covers 30 things every new prepper should get in order to meet the needs of their family for about two weeks.
Note: These items are not necessarily listed in order of importance.
1. Bottled Water
Get enough to last at least two weeks. Most preppers recommend one gallon per person per day, but I recommend two gallons per person per day just to be on the safe side. You might need extra water for cleaning dishes, washing your hands, etc. You can go with 5-gallon containers, single bottles, or the one-gallon containers. Just make sure the containers are fairly sturdy so you can reuse them.
2. Water Purification Method
If you run out of bottled water, you’ll need to purify any water you manage to collect. You can use unscented bleach, purification tablets, or a water filter. You can also just bring your water to a rapid boil for at least a minute.
3. Two Ways to Start a Fire
At least. Bic lighters, matches, and Ferro rods are all good options. Ferro rods can be used over and over, which makes them a better option than matches.
4. Two Weeks of Food
For now, just stock up on what you normally eat, except for things that have to be refrigerated. Instead, focus on non-perishables like canned food, boxed meals, and various pantry items such as peanut butter, crackers, apple sauce, spaghetti, marinara sauce, etc.
5. A Manual Can Opener
To open all the cans of food you’ll be storing. It’s possible to open a can without a can opener, but that would be quite a hassle. Instead, keep a couple can openers on hand just in case you misplace the first one.
7. A Campstove and Spare Fuel Tanks
Coleman makes a great camp stove, but if you’re trying to get a whole bunch of items right away, you might want something more affordable. This single-burner propane stove doesn’t cost much and can be used indoors. One propane cylinder will only get you 2-3 hours of cooking time, so get plenty extra.
Multitools can be very handy during a disaster. A good one can perform the job of a whole tool chest. But as with camp stoves, they can be very expensive. Fortunately, you can get a nice Leatherman for a reasonable price.
9. A Good Knife
10. Axe for Chopping Wood
Even if you have a camp stove, you still might want to build a campfire and use it for cooking, heating up water (for bathing and cleaning), and warmth. But to do that, you’ll need to chop up some firewood. Fiskars makes a heavy-duty axe.
11. Space Heater
If you don’t have a fireplace or access to firewood, then your best bet is to get a space heater.
12. Extra Cash
If the power is out, banks will be closed and ATMs won’t be working. However, there still could be many people and stores accepting cash, so try to set aside several hundred dollars so you can purchase any items you forgot to get.
14. Bug Out Bag
This is a prepper must-have. It should contain the supplies needed to survive for at least three days while you travel to another retreat. Make sure you have a bag for each member of the family. As for what to put in it, here are some suggestions.
If your area is being evacuated, make sure to bring your bug out bag, whatever supplies you can fit in the car, and a tent. That last one is in case all the hotels on the evacuation route are full and you have nowhere else to sleep. Speaking of that, bring some sleeping bags, too.
16. Survival Books
You can’t possibly remember everything. Keep some references that will help you live in a post-disaster world. Here are some of my favorite survival books. Also, check out these free books you can print.
17. Emergency Candles and Holders
Emergency candles are designed to burn brighter and last longer than decorative candles. You’ll need several of them–one for the main room, one for the kitchen, one to bring to the bathroom, etc. Here are some other lighting options.
These are better than candles if you’re searching for something or if you’re on the move at night. I recommend LED flashlights because they last longer and usually don’t require as many batteries.
Check the type and number of batteries each flashlight needs and write it down. Also, make a list of any other battery-powered devices you have and what batteries they need. Personally, I prefer rechargeable batteries. They don’t last as long, but if you have enough of them and a solar charger, you never have to worry about running out.
20. Solar Charger
This solar battery charger can charge all the standard battery sizes (except for 9V). They also make solar charging stations for your phone and other devices.
21. Crank or Battery Operated Radio
You’ll need this so you can hear what’s going on via emergency broadcasts. This hand-crank radio is also a flashlight and a smartphone charger.
22. Security Measures
During a grid-down scenario, many criminals will take advantage of the situation and start looting stores or robbing houses. How far you go with your security measures is up to you, but you should at least get some battery-powered alarms for your doors and windows.
They won’t necessarily stop a burglar from breaking in, but most burglars will move on to another house if they hear a noisy alarm. You may also want to get some motion sensor lights. Here are some other ways to deter burglars.
23. Weapon for Self Defense
Things like toilet paper, soap, and toothpaste. You don’t want to run out of these when there are no stores to buy from.
25. Hand Sanitizer
This will come in handy when water is in short supply. You can use hand sanitizer in between hand washings to keep your hands relatively germ free.
26. Trash Bags
Trash bags have multiple uses, but you’ll mainly need them for all the trash that will pile up when the garbage trucks stop rolling. They can also be used as toilet liners if you don’t want to waste water.
27. Two-Way Radios
It’s likely cell phone towers will be down or jammed during a disaster, so you’ll need two-way radios to communicate with your family if you’re out on a supply run. Here are some other ways to communicate.
28. First Aid Kit
Eventually, you’ll want to gather all sorts of medical supplies, but for now, just make sure you have a bit more than your standard kit with a few Bandaids. You’ll need to be able to handle emergencies that require more than that. Here’s a good first aid kit to start with.
29. Hammer and Nails
These will be helpful for repairing any damage around the house from heavy winds. They can also be used to board up windows if needed.
30. Roll of Plastic
There are many other things I could list, but these 30 are enough to get you ready for most temporary disasters. With this stuff, you’ll be better off than 99% of people. Good luck!
Update: One of my readers made a really good point that I want to share. The most important thing every prepper should have is KNOWLEDGE. All these supplies are useless if you don’t know how to properly use them. Check out our other articles and some of the books I recommended above, and practice practice practice!