Life has gotten a bit crazy, and many people are beginning to think that it makes a lot of sense to prepare. We have received numerous requests from our readers wanting to know how and where to start.
How do I get started prepping? Effective prepping begins with a personal risk assessment to determine the threats you face, and where you should focus most of your time and resources. Once you know what you are preparing for, it is a good idea to focus on the basics of water, food, shelter, fuel, and sanitation.
This post has been uniquely designed to walk a new prepper through the process of becoming prepared for natural disasters (such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods), man-made events (war, civil unrest, economic collapse, etc.) and personal challenges (things like the loss of employment or the death of a loved one). We will include many resources that we believe may be quite helpful to you in your quest to become a little more self-reliant and prepared each day.
We will create a video for each step in this process and add them to this post as they are created. We are determined to provide you with the information that you need to succeed.
Do Not Stress – Take It One Step at a Time
There is much to do, but do not panic. We are breaking it down into small, manageable steps. Every step you take puts you in a better place than you were the day before. Small steady steps get you there!
Throughout this post, we will provide you with links to action plans. It might be a good idea to print these out and place them in a binder to track your goals and progress. You can also use this binder for important notes and written materials.
A Word to the Wise
You do not need to have everything. Get busy with the basics that sustain life. Luxuries can come later as your budget allows. Do not go into debt. A good prepper will work to get out of debt and stay there.
Newbie Prep Step 1 – Risk Evaluation and Basic Food and Water
Congratulations on getting started. You are in for an exciting adventure.
The first order of business is to complete a basic risk evaluation. You must know what risks you might face. Start by taking a good look at where you live and the potential threats that you may face.
The first article below will walk you through potential risks and help you brainstorm. The second link is to a PDF of a risk evaluation action plan. You fill in the blanks and organize your thoughts. Once you are finished, you will have a solid handle on the threats you should focus your preparation efforts on.
Step 1 Newbie Prepper homework is to stock up on a 1 week supply of drinking water and a 2 week supply of shelf-stable foods. It is important that we do not waste any time when it comes to stocking up on the basics.
You can do this without a large financial outlay or take the more expensive convenient way. Either one will get the job done.
Stock Up on a 1-Week Supply of Water
We recommend that you store 2 gallons of water per person per day. One gallon of drinking water and one gallon of hygiene or cooking water. The goal, for now, is 14 gallons of water per person in your household.
- Costco sells water bottles for less than $3 for a total of 5.28 gallons. If you purchase the water from Costco it will only cost $9 per person for a 1-week supply of water.
- Store water for free by repurposing PETE plastic bottles such as juice bottles, soda bottles, or Powerade bottles. You can also repurpose glass jars for drinking water. Clean them well and fill them with clean water.
Take a few minutes to read How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness to have many of your questions on water storage answered.
Build a 2-Week Supply of Shelf-Stable Foods
Stocking your pantry with shelf-stable foods is the next item on your list. The goal is to be able to fill your belly for 2 weeks with foods that do not require refrigeration.
The ideal way to accomplish this, is to plan your meals for 2 weeks and purchase the necessary ingredients. Use recipes that have shelf-stable ingredients. Substitute canned meats for fresh or frozen meat. Canned vegetables for frozen or fresh veggies.
If money is tight, simply pickup basic items. The following are items were priced at Walmart. It is not the ideal menu, but it would keep you from starving for a couple of weeks.
- White rice, 10 pounds, 100 servings, 160 calories each, $4.54
- Pinto beans, 8 pounds, 103 servings, 100 calories each, $5.98
- Black beans, 4 pounds, 52 servings, 100 calories, $4.44
- Rolled Oats, 42 ounce, 30 servings, 150 calories, $2.33
- Krusteaz Complete Pancake Mix, 10 pounds, 90 servings, $7.42
- Maple Syrup, 35 servings, 100 calories, $2.48
- Peanut Butter, 35 servings, 190 calories, $2.56
- Spaghetti, 16 ounce, 8 servings 200 calories, $1.00
- Pasta sauce, 24 ounce, 5 servings, 35 calories, $1.00
- Ramen Noodles, 12 pack, 24 servings, 190 calories, $1.94
These foods are missing the fruits and vegetables, but the point that I am trying to make is that for less than $35 you could feed 4 people for 2 weeks.
You will find these posts valuable in helping you to understand exactly how to do this.
Newbie Prep Step 2 – Develop a Family Emergency Plan
In Step 1, you built a risk assessment that will help you understand how to prioritize your time and resources. That list is going to be quite valuable as you develop your family emergency plan.
Start by reading these articles on how to build your family emergency plan one step at a time. Do not get overwhelmed. Just read through this and get an idea of the areas that you need to plan. The third link will take you to a page where you can print out a PDF copy of an action plan to help you organize your thoughts.
- Steps to Build a Successful Family Emergency Plan
- Prepping with Elderly and Disabled Loved Ones
- Family Emergency Plan of Action
Develop a written family emergency plan using the plan of action provided on the website. Hold a family meeting and discuss your new emergency plan and steps for implementing it. Listen carefully to all of the input from family members and incorporate this into the plan as it makes sense.
Newbie Prep Step 3 – Basic Sanitation Supplies
Only a few months ago, there was no toilet paper to be found on store shelves. I do not understand why people were hoarding toilet paper. I would think that food would be a much higher priority than toilet paper. We were able to avoid all that nonsense because we had stocked up on supplies long before the madness ensued.
In Step 3, we will show you how to prepare for your basic sanitation needs during a disaster or shortage. Carefully consider the unique needs of each family member.
- Prepping for Basic Emergency Sanitation
- Emergency Sanitation for Our Little Loved Ones
- Disinfecting Water Using Calcium Hypochlorite
- Crisis Laundry Management
- Disasters Literally Stink: How to Tame the Stench!
- No Toilet Paper? No Problem! 14 Emergency Alternatives
- Sanitation Action Plan
Stock up on basic sanitation supplies including toilet paper, feminine supplies, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, dental floss, and other basic supplies.
Consider how you would be able to wash your hands, clean the dishes, shower, and use the toilet without running water or working sewer. There are some helpful ideas in the reading assignment.
Newbie Prep Step 4 – Emergency Evacuation Kit
There are a hundred different reasons why you may have to leave your home to find safety. Events might include wildfire, flooding, hurricanes, civil unrest, and a host of other concerns. Many of these events will provide you with little advanced warning.
- How to Create the Perfect Emergency Survival Kit
- 14 Emergency Kits to Help You Dominate Disaster
- How to Organize Critical Documents for Emergency Evacuation
- Wildfire Evacuation: Prepare Now to Protect Your Family
- Survival Kits Plan of Action
Look around your home and find some type of backpack or rolling suitcase that you might be able to use for an emergency kit. Stock it using the principles you learned in your reading assignment. You will need one for every member of your family. New packs would be ideal but use whatever you can find for now.
Consider the unique needs of each family member, and let them help you to create an emergency survival kit that is specially designed to take care of them. Store the kits in a place that is easily accessible if you need to evacuate in a hurry.
Newbie Prep Step 5 – Build Your Water Supply and Purchase a Water Filter
Water is absolutely critical. In Step 1, you acquired enough water for your family for one week. Now it is time to increase your water storage and purchase a water filter that will help you to create clean drinking water from outside sources.
- How to Store Water for Emergency Preparedness
- Tips for Storing Water in a 55-Gallon Plastic Barrel
- Emergency Water Filters: Guiding You Through the Maze
- Emergency Water: 17 Potential Sources
- Making Water Safe to Drink: 7 Disinfection Techniques
- UV Rays Save the Day! Disinfecting Water Using the Sun
- Water Storage Action Plan
Evaluate your water storage and see what you can reasonably do to increase the amount of water that you have stored. Purchase a water filter that fits both your budget and your needs.
Newbie Prep Step 6 – Build Your Short-Term Food Supply
A full pantry will bring you an incredible amount of peace. We recommend that you begin by stocking up on the shelf-stable foods that you eat every day. This includes:
- Canned goods: meats, beans, vegetables, fruits, and soups
- Dry goods: flour, rice, beans, pasta, sugar, salt, and basics
- Packaged foods: cereal, boxed meals, boxed desserts, granola bars, and ready-to-eat anything
- Beverages: shelf-stable milk, juices, hot cocoa, coffee, and your favorite drinks
In this step, you will focus on setting goals to build your food storage, and get started. You may want to refer to Step 1 reading assignment for short term food storage.
- The Difference Between Short-Term and Long-Term Food Storage
- 90-Day Challenge—Survive Solely on Food Storage and Garden
- We Survived on Food Storage and Garden Produce for 90 Days
- Food Storage “How and Where” Action Plan
Set a realistic goal to stock your pantry with the foods that your family likes to eat. Our goal is to have a continuous 3-month supply of food. You set the goal that makes the most sense for your family. You do not have to get it all today. Develop a plan and make steady progress.
Newbie Prep Step 7 – Power Outage Cooking
Now you have your food stored, but how are you going to cook it if the electricity or natural gas is off. In this step you are going to learn about alternative cooking options, explore the best options for your family, and purchase one or two that are in your budget.
- Safe Indoor Emergency Cooking Solutions
- Emergency Cooking 12 Family Favorites
- Thermal Cookers: Powerful Solution for Efficient Emergency Cooking
- 30 Day Grid-Down Cooking Challenge – Lessons Learned and Fuel Usage
- Emergency Cooking Action Plan
Once you have completed the reading assignment, review the emergency cooking action plan. Brainstorm with your family members which options you may already have in place, and what it would require to be able to use those tools to cook during an emergency. Do you need additional fuel? Do you need to acquire a device for safe indoor cooking?
Step 7 homework assignment is to obtain a way to cook outdoors and a safe appliance for cooking indoors along with the required fuel. Practice cooking without electricity or natural gas regularly. Safety must be a high priority in both burning fuel and storing it.
Remember, you do not need to have all the fun cooking toys that are out there. Focus on a reliable way to cook indoors and another to cook outdoors.
Newbie Prep Step 8 – Power Outage Heating
We turned off our power one January just to see if we could survive without any alternative heating. I came out of that challenge with a new determination to have systems in place to stay warm no matter what.
In this step, you are going to evaluate your need to stay warm during a power outage. Living in Alaska will provide significantly different challenges than living in Phoenix. It is also important to consider the unique needs of your family members. Do you have infants, elderly or disabled members that are more sensitive to extreme cold? Plan accordingly.
- Surviving a Winter Power Outage – How to Stay Warm
- Best Alternative Heat Sources to Use During a Power Outage
- How to Safely Store Fuel for Emergencies
- Candles as an Emergency Fuel Source for Warmth, Light, and Cooking
Step 8 homework is to aquire and practice using a safe alternative heating device that will help you to stay warm during a winter power outage. Safely stock the required fuel. Remember don’t take chances by using heating devices that may result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
Newbie Prep Step 9 – Build Your Long-Term Food Supply
You have made some impressive progress. Now it is time to put some time and resources into developing a long-term food supply. These are foods that will sustain you, and that can be stored for 25-30 years in a cool, dry storeroom. They must be packaged appropriately to obtain the longest shelf life possible.
- Long Term Food Storage: Creative Solutions to Build a Critical Asset
- Long Term Food Storage: Best Containers and Treatment Methods
- 8 Food Storage Enemies and How to Slay Them
- Packaging Dry Foods in Glass Jars for Long Term Food Storage
- Packaging Dry Foods in Plastic Bottles for Long Term Food Storage
- How to Package Dry Foods in Mylar Bags for Long Term Storage
- Food Storage Action Plan
In Step 9 you are going to create a place to store your food supply and start to stock up on basic, life-sustaining dry goods that will store for 25-30 years.
The ideal storage room will be cool, dry, and dark and have sturdy shelving. However, this food can easily be stored underneath a bed, in the tops or bottoms of closets, or any cool place that you can find room.
Building your long-term food supply is something that can take years to accomplish. Potentially, you can just order it delivered from a food storage company in one day. Or you can save significant money by purchasing the food in bulk and packaging it yourself.
We have worked over the years to build our long-term food supply, and we rotate through it to make sure that we always have a fresh supply. You decide how fast you want to build up this supply of basic dry goods. Just make steady progress.
Newbie Prep Step 10 – Power Outage Ready
We have been ultimately working toward being ready to thrive when the power goes out. You are almost ready. Each of these steps has brought you a little bit closer to self-reliance.
In this step, we are going to double check your preps to make sure that you can meet all your basic needs without electricity. That means you can cook your food, stay warm, light your world, take care of your sanitation needs, and have food and water stored.
- Brilliant Ideas to Literally Light Your World in a Power Outage
- Empower Yourself by Preparing for a Power Outage: A Prepper’s Guide
- New Urgency to Prepare for an Extended Power Outage
Evaluate your readiness to survive a power outage that might last 2 weeks or more. Do you have everything that you need? If you are missing any of the skills or supplies that you need, your homework assignment for this step is to work on aquiring them.
The best test of your preparedness is to accept the challenge to turn off your power for a little while and see how you do. Perhaps you start by turning off some circuits in your home, then others, then all. Evaluate what went right and where you can improve. Start with a few days and work your way up to a week … if you dare.
Newbie No More!
Congratulations! Once you have completed these 10 steps you are no longer a novice prepper. I am immensely proud of you. You now have the skills and supplies to face many of life’s challenges.
I wish I could tell you that you have arrived. The truth is you have now built a wonderful foundation that will help you through some tough times. Use it as a springboard to launch you into a higher level of self-reliance. The more self-reliant you become the less you will be affected by the hardships in life.
There is great peace in being able to take care of your family regardless of the challenges ahead. Continue the journey with us. Reach out and be a force for good in your neighborhood and community. Together we can get through anything.
Thanks for being part of the solution!Jonathan and Kylene Jones