First Things First: Key Questions Facing the Beginning Prepper

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While there may be three million Americans preparing for a paradigm shift which promises to change our very way of life, that leaves roughly 99% of our population that has failed to take any serious steps to insulate themselves from catastrophe. Earlier this week we asked “How Horrific Will It Be For the Non-Prepper?”, in which we detailed the disastrous consequences that await those who will get blindsided by a widespread natural or man-made disaster. Hopefully, that article will be enough to convince some “non-preppers” to start putting their well-being into their own hands by developing personal and familial preparedness and response plans for far-from-equilibrium scenarios that may strike at anytime.

As Norse Prepper points out in the article below, one of the key motivators for ramping up your personal larder, supplies and skill sets is to avoid ever putting yourself and family into a situation where you are left with no choice but to tell your loved ones that you’re, “going to get us some food and will return with it or die trying.” In a scenario like that your odds of survival diminish significantly.

If you’ve turned the corner, or been ‘awakened’ as we like to say in alternative media, then the notion that the system as we have come to know it could fall apart around us without warning can be very overwhelming at first. So, too, is the daunting task of determining what steps to take next and how to go about creating your own personal preparedness plan to shield you from whatever may befall us.

The following questions, suggestions, considerations, and topics of discussion are a primer for those who have chosen to take control of their personal safety and security, and may help to point beginning preppers in the right direction.

Inspired by the article regarding how horrific it’s going to get for the non prepper, I thought I might also submit the following article on what it is like to be a new prepper. The purpose of this article is not to tell my story, but to give perspective on how overwhelming it was for me as a beginning prepper.

With the amount of knowledge that readers at this website display, what could I possibly add?

My answer to that is perspective.

Many on this site and others have been preparing for years and are prepared. I know one of the first replies will be that you can never be fully prepared and it’s a journey more than a destination and I subscribe to that 100%. I personally will never be done prepping. One thing that I have found in my years of work is that after someone has done something for some time, it’s hard to remember what it was like in the beginning. I work in an engineering field and things that are very simple and seem like basics can be complicated and not easily understood by someone who is new in their engineering career. Hopefully this article takes you back to when you first began prepping and helps you relate to us newbies.

Think back to when you first felt the tugging of something in the back of your mind leading you to do more research and eventually coming to the conclusion that you must become a prepper. It may have been as blunt as a Katrina event, or possibly it was just little things here and there that eventually and gradually led you to where you are at today. Regardless of the journey, I believe it to be important to remember your roots and by doing so you will be more armed to help other people to come in to the light of what is going on in the world around us and help them get more prepared.

How I was first awoken from my state of unpreparedness was when I watched the End of America video produced by Porter Stansberry. What I saw scared the heck out of me and after watching what he had to say and showing the facts of our economic system, I went from being a SHTF ostrich with my head in the sand, to fearful that time is running out for our country as we know it. Even after seeing the End of America video, I still wasn’t aware of what it was to be a prepper. I focused more on investing in silver and things like that to hedge against the coming hyperinflation. It wasn’t until about six months ago that I came across the term prepper and dug in to see what this movement was about and frankly, I found it extremely overwhelming.

Below is my top ten list of the thousand questions that came flooding in to my head upon my awakening as well as what I am doing to answer these questions. I believe these are all questions that every new prepper should answer as fast as possible and take steps to prepare for immediately.

  1. What am I preparing for? I needed to identify what it is that I’m going to try to protect myself from. If I was going to prepare for a one week loss of power in a winter storm then there isn’t much to prepare for. If I am preparing for a global collapse of the financial system or EMP that would send us back to the early 1800′s I’ve got some work to do. At a minimum I would suggest that new preppers start with a plan for being self reliant for 3 months. By the time you are prepared for this, you will have learned much and can then set out on whatever your phase II duration will be. I live in a northern climate with harsh winters so my phase I goal is to be prepared for six months. Personally, I am still in this stage of prepping, but phase II will be for preparing for a multi-year grid down scenario.
  2. Am I going to bug in or bug out? I agree with the opinion that bugging out should only be considered if you have somewhere to go. Heading out to the woods is not an option unless you are trained in surviving under these conditions. I’ve got a wife and three kids, heading to the woods is not an option for me. If you are going to bug out, it needs to be earlier in the collapse rather than later or you will find yourself stuck at a road block. Read the book One Second After for a detailed description of what happens to refugees attempting to flee to already starving communities. Personally, I have chosen to bug-in. It is where my preps are located as well as familiar neighbors.

  3. Can I defend my family, property and preps? Let’s face it, when the SHTF, my preps will be viewed as “their” preps to the golden hoard. Is a stranger more likely to watch their children starve or are they more likely to tell their wife u201CI’m going to get us some food and will return with it or die trying.u201D The prepared need to ask a different question. When they arrive at my doorstep, what will I do? Will I give them some of my preps as charity? Every meal I give out gets me closer to the time when I will be telling our family, as I head out the door, u201CI’m going to get us some food and will return with it or die trying.u201D This is a huge decision to make because we need to have resolve in our minds what we are going to do when this day comes. In a SHTF situation there can be no indecisiveness. I won’t go in to any detail on how to defend yourself as there are novels of information on this subject. I believe a defense plan is more important than a food plan because if you can’t defend it you might as well not have it.
  4. Do I have enough to feed my family until order is restored? That is assuming order will be restored. Personally, if it gets as bad as it can, I do believe eventually a new nation or nations will form and there will again be public services. I had to figure out what my comfort level is for the amount of time that I will need to eat from my preps, supplemented by gardens, hunting, fishing…etc.
  5. How will I heat my home? Since my plan is to bug-in in a northern climate, I need to figure out how I will heat my home. I live in suburbia and it scares me to see that relatively few people have wood burning…anything. I have a fireplace in my house and will secure enough firewood this summer to heat my house for two winters. All of my neighbors depend on electrical or natural gas for heat. I personally have seen the temperature in my location get to -60 degrees below zero with a wind chill of over 100 below. Many in my surrounding area will die of exposure unless they can be in my living room. I honestly don’t know the answer to the question of what will I do when people in my area are freezing and there is smoke coming out of my chimney. Anyone who has driven past a house burning wood in the winter knows it is fairly impossible to not alert people to a nearby source of heat. To me, this poses one of my greatest threats. Suggestions here would be helpful.

  6. How will I keep clean? Personal hygiene will be a huge issue in a SHTF scenario. I realized quickly that I need to stock up on toothpaste, TP, laundry/dish/hand soaps, medical supplies, and everything else needed to keep sanitary conditions in an unsanitary world. I made lists of lists of all of the things I will need. [Lists and more lists]
  7. How will I provide light and electricity? In an EOTWAWKI situation having some rechargeable batteries to use will be a luxury that we currently take for granted. I plan on getting a stockpile of rechargeable batteries and solar equipment. I have a basement with a sump pump, when the grid goes down what will keep my basement from getting inundated with groundwater? I picked up a secondary battery powered sump pump that runs off of a deep cycle battery. Solar rechargers can be purchased to ensure that the batteries can be kept charged. How great would it be to be able to watch a movie on a laptop? With respect to light, when there is no power, it will be very dark. Children (and some adults) can get spooked easily when there is 14 hours of darkness per day in the winter. I am going to stock some solar powered garden lights. These can be placed in the light during the day and provide for a night light during the hours of darkness. Radios, flashlights and other things can be hand cranked for power. Anything that is sustainable and will produce light or energy will become extremely valuable.
  8. How will I keep up on information and communicate with the outside world? Obviously my TV will become useless. Who knows if there will be radio stations transmitting, and if they are, what is the source of the information? Personally I plan on eventually getting a HAM radio and learning the trade. I believe this will be the best information available as it will probably be filled with info from other preppers in the nation.
  9. What do I have to offer others? In a collapsed society, skills, knowledge and items for trade will pay off in a huge way. The only thing that will help me acquire supplies that I don’t have or want will be the ability to offer something to someone who has it and they find the value of my goods or services to be more than what they have. If they don’t, then they will not be willing to trade. I have personally chosen to stock up on more of the convenience things for these situations. I plan on stockpiling coffee and lighters. People will trade for a hot cup of coffee and from my perspective, coffee is a convenience. People will need to be able to start a fire for cooking or heating their homes and a source of fire will be invaluable in a SHTF scenario. Personally I won’t be bartering away guns or ammunition because the person who I just armed would also realize that if I can spare these essential items I probably have other essential items and now they have a way to get them from me.

  10. How will I fight off boredom? One thing that has haunted me is when the SHTF, how can I pass the time without going completely stir crazy? Obviously, there will be many chores and a lot of labor involved in daily life after a collapse, but there will also be hours upon hours of sitting in a quiet house. My kids will be involved in chores of the day, but what can I do to reduce the monotony of a grid down situation? I plan on stockpiling books on many different subjects. Fiction and nonfiction. How to’s and stories. A bow and arrow can provide hours of target practice as well as developing a survival skill. Decks of cards can provide entertainment as well as bartering potential. If you go to a casino, you can get decks of cards for 50 cents. Puzzles, board games, pads of paper and plenty of writing utensils. Anything that can hopefully make life more fun for the family to escape reality, even for a moment. Don’t forget the most important book of them all, the Bible.
  11. How do I pay for all of this? OK, I know I said top 10, but this question needs to be taken care of pre-SHTF where as my top 10 deal with issues post-SHTF. Most are living paycheck to paycheck, so how can preps be paid for when we are in survival mode? My plan is to sell off anything that I don’t feel is necessary. Have a garage sale and go to garage sales — you would be amazed at what you will find. I recently found three oil lamps for 50 cents each! Sell things on Ebay and Craigslist. Get a second job and dedicate all income from it to preps. Don’t worry, if the SHTF doesn’t happen and you are prepped, you can always go back and replace these items, but get prepared first. I would rather have a stocked supply room than shares of Google.

What am I preparing for? Will I bug in or bug out? How will I defend myself, family and home? What will I eat? How will I heat my home? How will I keep clean? How will I produce light and electricity? How will I get information and communicate with the outside world? What skills do I have and items can I use to barter? How will I fight off boredom? These are but the tip of the iceberg of questions needing to be answered for when life as we know it comes to an end. When talking to and dealing with anyone new to prepping, please remember that they are entering a large and complex world where their decisions on what to do next could mean the difference between life and death. Help them to make a list of priorities and offer them advice on what the list should contain. This article is just a primer, but is more than what 99% of people have done to prepare themselves and their families for what is coming.

Also, please let me say thank you to Mac, the contributors and people who comment on the SHTFplan web site for helping me and my family prepare. You truly are today’s patriots. God bless.

Reprinted from SHTF Plan.

Mac Slavo [send him mail] is a small business owner and independent investor.

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