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The Easy Way to Start Prepping (for Non-Preppers)

Posts: 538
Location: Middle Georgia
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A member here messaged me and suggested that others may be interested in more info on basic preparedness.

Don't get overwhelmed by articles or videos saying you need a year's worth of food, water, water filters, solar panels, a small arsenal with thousands of rounds and the ability to make more etc...

IMO the simplest way to start prepping is to have short time oriented goals that are easy to meet without a lot of effort or expense. When you reach your goal you have a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind since you know you are set for ___ days and that sense of accomplishment encourages you to do more.

Goal #1 -- 72 hours

Store the supplies you would need if you lost power for three days and you could not leave the house. Keep the supplies in a closet or wherever so they are all in one place and you don't deplete them via regular use.

Water -- Buy bottled water or fill used bottles. Store it in a dark place to prevent algae. If you are totally out there is usually a fair amount in the hot water heater. Even if you are on city water and expect an unlimited supply it can become contaminated and unsafe to drink. Figure 2 gallons a day per adult (one for drinking, one for washing).

Food -- Store foods that can be eaten cold and last a long while such as canned tuna, peanut butter, crackers, canned fruit, cereal, powdered or evaporated milk etc... Only store foods you like and regularly eat (no untried mystery meat even if it is on sale). Cans/bottles of coffee, ice tea, or even soda may be helpful for a caffeine fix. Rotate your supplies every 6-12 months as needed (i.e. crackers may go stale or become bug infested).  Remember to store supplies for your animals as well, dry dog food goes bad after several months (fats go rancid) so that has to be rotated regularly even if it looks okay.

Lighting -- Flashlights, book lights, candles, lanterns etc... If you haven't bought a new flashlight in a few years you will be blown away by even the really cheap LED flashlights ($5 or so on ebay).

Batteries. If you don't have a landline phone you may need a small battery charger for your cell phone.

Basic Medical Stuff -- Bandaids, aspirin/pain killers, cold meds etc... If you are on crucial prescription meds make sure to have a few days on hand as well.

Emergency Radio -- Lots of options out there using solar, hand cranks etc...  I prefer a small walkman radio with a headset (good sound quality plus 50 hours of runtime on one AAA battery). While a cell phone may provide news and contact with the outside world (if cell towers are working) a radio is a good backup. Even three days without news/updates can be very unsettling not to mention boring.

(Up next -- One Week Goal)
Lucrecia Anderson
Posts: 538
Location: Middle Georgia
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Goal #2 -- A week's worth of supplies

Small Single Burner Propane or Butane Camp Stove -- These little stoves fit right on your kitchen counter and set up in 3 min or less using the 1 lb fuel bottles. You can pick one up for under $30. Choose one with a stable platform/base that can easily and safely hold a fairly large pot of water (to heat water for washing).

More Food (Hot/Cooked) --  Rice, pasta, instant (fat free) mashed potatoes, canned veggies, soups, pasta sauce, chili, chicken/ham, ramen, instant hot chocolate/coffee/tea, etc... Start off by cooking/eating the food in your fridge and then the freezer before it spoils. Don't buy one of those 30 day emergency food buckets and call it done. In a power outage/emergency your life will be hard enough as it -- eating really awful tasting food for days on end only makes a bad situation worse.

More Water and/or a water filter for folks on city water. A $30 Sawyer water filter is an easy an inexpensive option plus it is small.

Paper Plates -- the cheap/thin kind to use as plate/bowl liners. You don't want to waste water on dirty dishes.


Additional items to add as time/money permits, some are are optional and others may be urgent depending on your needs:

Off-Grid Heat Source -- Small kerosene or propane heaters are a good option even for apartment dwellers.

Home Defense -- Shotgun, machete, etc... If you get a machete use it in your garden to chop down weeds/brush so you become proficient with it.

Additional Medical Supplies -- Gauze/bandages, rubbing alcohol, vet wrap, blood stop powder, gloves, benadryl, extra prescription meds and fish antibiotics etc... Venomous snakes are risk where I live so I keep Prednisone on hand (a snake bite when the roads are blocked by down trees could be a death sentence). If you have a good relationship with your veterinarian they can really help you out.

Mylar Bags with Oxygen Absorbers -- An easy and inexpensive way to keep your dry goods shelf stable for years with no worries about them going stale or being infested by insects. The one gallon bags hold 2 boxes of pasta, 4 lbs of flour or sugar etc... Only store foods with very few ingredients and no fat (like pasta, oatmeal, plain crackers, etc...) The 5 gallon bags can hold 50 lbs of wheat/rice/corn which is great for large families and chickens/other livestock.

Generator -- Portable generators are great for keeping the freezer cold or pumping well water but IMO they should not be relied on for necessities such as cooking and heat.  They are loud, finicky and they eat up a lot of gas.

Books and Board Games especially if you have kids (their survival may depend on it if you are locked in the house with them for days on end).


These lists are by no means perfect but they will get you off to a good start -- often getting started is the hardest part!
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