Preppers have become known for a lot of things in the media, but until recently it wasn’t for any prepper skills. We are known for underground bunkers, stockpiling tons of freeze-dried food and weapons. Preppers are frequently portrayed as preparing for the end of the world (on more than one occasion) and we generally get lumped into a very large classification of people who seemly panic and overreact to everything. For many years, if you were someone who considered themselves a prepper you could expect to be the butt of many jokes.

But somewhere along the way, that perspective started to change and for the most part, preppers aren’t viewed quite as harshly as we used to be. In fact, I don’t believe Prepper is such a bad word anymore.

Oh, sure there are still sarcastic remarks you will hear occasionally from intellectual hipsters. “You’re one of those Doomsday Preppers, aren’t you?” Some people even write articles about how they just wish preppers would all die so they could eat their stored foods. Even some preppers complain about other preppers and question their motivations for preparing or argue over what is really going to happen and what is fantasy in their opinion.

There will always be arguments over style, but it seems that the ideas behind the motivation to prepare are catching on. News reports actually reference preppers from time to time and soberly relate advice we have all been saying for years. So the idea has gained some validation, but if you had to boil it down to some generic survival skills, what would those be?

I started to think about what were the must have Prepper skills that I thought each person could try to master in order to give themselves the best chance of survival. We dig much deeper into each of these areas below on Final Prepper blog, but people love lists so here it goes.

What are the must have prepper skills?

The ability to create or find shelter

There is a saying in survival circles about the rule of 3’s. The Rule of 3’s states that you can live for 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Naturally, there are exceptions to the rule, but is a good baseline to look at when we talk about surviving. Assuming you are able to breathe, the first prepper skill revolves around shelter because exposure to the elements can kill you more quickly than most other non-human involved situations.

When we think of shelter that usually means heat or cold in the extremes. Sure having a dry roof over your head is nice but the important factor is keeping your core temperature in the healthy range. If you can’t keep warm and your body temperature drops too low (hypothermia), you die. If you can’t keep cool and your body temperature rises too high (hyperthermia) you die. There have been many people who died in the dry cold of abandoned buildings.

A simple debris shelter can insulate you from the cold and if done properly, conceal your location.
A simple debris shelter can insulate you from the cold and if done properly, conceal your location.

Shelter includes wearing the proper clothing, regulating your body temperature and augmenting your environment to keep yourself alive. It is one of my main concerns when faced with the thought of bugging out and that is why I do pay attention to the supplies my family has for their bug out bags. Additionally, I know ways to create shelter out of natural elements like the traditional debris shelter in the picture above.

The ability to find water and make it safe to drink

Following the next most important aspect of the survival paradigm of the rule of 3’s is the ability to keep yourself hydrated. If you don’t have good clean water to drink and pretty regularly, you will die. You might think this isn’t really a skill, but I consider the acquisition of water in a grid down situation very important to your survival. Finding it, carrying it and disinfecting it can prove to be a challenge for many people. Our reality is that clean water flows from the taps. When that stops what will you do?

If you only have to worry about yourself, you might be thinking that all you need is a LifeStraw and you are all set. That may help you survive, but in order to thrive you need to plan for much more water for daily use. Every person adds to that total which makes finding a reliable source of water a mandatory first step. Yes, you can find water in the woods, but you can also walk around a long time without finding any.

Some additional information:

The ability to obtain food

A good edible plant guide makes a great addition to the prepper bookshelf.

How can finding food be a prepper skill you ask? Assume for a minute that none of the regular places you go to now for food are available? How will you eat? We assume that the grocery stores will always be open or we will simply walk out in the woods and shoot a deer while we eat a nice salad from our garden with dressing made from the apple trees in our orchard and herbs from the back porch. That may happen, but what if all of those other methods were out of reach for you? What if you weren’t in your home anymore and you were on the run? I think to survive we are all going to have to rely on as many methods for obtaining food as possible.

Foraging – Yes, there are edible plants all around us but do you know what they are? Do you know how to prepare them so your children will eat them? Do you know how many stalks of that green vegetable you will have to eat to actually have a full stomach? What will you eat in the winter when nothing is growing outside?

Fishing – Fishing seems like a great fall back idea. If you have access to a lake or a river it would be easy to think that you will simply walk down to the bank with your trusty rod and reel and fill up a bucket of fish. All ponds and lakes have a maximum amount of fish they can support and they can be over-fished. If you figure about 50 lbs. of fish per acre per year, that really isn’t even enough to keep one person alive if you consider the approximate average of about 400 calories per pound of fish. Fishing can certainly augment your food stores but unless you have an insane amount of water that nobody else is using, you can’t plan on this as your only source. Obviously, if you are out on the ocean, this is not the same problem but us landlocked people have to consider that.

Hunting – We will all be hunting for our meals when the grid goes down and this is one of these myths that so many preppers believe in. If you live in the woods and have successfully hunted every year of your life, you could still starve in some catastrophe where the amount of hunters increases exponentially. Let’s assume you have 1000 hunters around where you live and each hunter where you live can shoot 10 deer per year. What happens when the number of hunters goes up to 10,000? How many deer will that leave you? Assuming you are lucky and are able to get your 10 deer, what happens the next year? All of the deer will be hunted to extinction.

Trapping – Setting snares for animals can get you a great amount of protein for your table, but that also assumes animals find them and fall for the trap. You can set all the hunting snares in the world, but if the animals don’t find your traps or there are no animals left in your area, you will still starve if you are only relying on trapping. I’ve watched an episode, some time ago, of Mountain Men on TV. One character was in Alaska, himself a very experienced trapper and he barely caught anything after many weeks on end. Certainly he was alone in the wilderness so you would assume there wasn’t any competition for food, but if he was counting on those traps to eat, he would have starved. The animals simply didn’t appear.

Snares can catch a meal if you are lucky, patient and in the right place at the right time.

Having a plan to provide yourself and your family with food should be multi-dimensional; it should change with the seasons and should consider times when food is scarce. That is one reason to have plenty of long-term storable food, several months’ worth of food you already eat everyday as well as a garden you tend and put back extra for the winter months. Hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging are all great activities too, but they take practice, luck and materials. Don’t expect to simply pull out your book on wild edibles and feed your family if the grid goes down.

The ability to make a fire

You need fire to keep warm and burning wood is one of the best alternatives to not having a furnace powered by electricity or fuel. There is an art to starting a fire and this is something that requires a little practice. Once you have a fire going, it needs to be maintained. In a grid down situation, it is highly likely that you will be cooking over an open fire so mastering this seemly simple task can give you a means for surviving.

Starting a fire is something you can easily practice now and I am frequently amazed at people who have never in their life started a fire. The basics are covered in the video below.
Some additional information:

The ability to provide for your security – Defend this house

Defensive needs will vary by the person, location and situation. What is right for you?

So far we have covered keeping yourself protected from the elements, obtaining and either filtering or disinfecting a source of water, planning for finding different sources of food and creating fire to help you stay warm or cook that big caribou you just shot with your favorite survival rifle. There are other risks to your health and safety though and in my mind one of the biggest threats to your life in a grid down scenario where the basics of society have been lost, are other people.

People are going to be one of the biggest considerations you have to plan for eventually. If you are able to keep yourself alive, someone could come along who wants what you have. Defending your life or the lives of your family could be a real possibility in a collapse. There are many options depending on your principles, values, physical limitations, legal realities or preferences.

For me, I try to have redundancy as much as possible. For security, my default position is that I have firearms in several different configurations for different needs. Hopefully I won’t have to use them but if the world has gone to hell and somebody is trying to separate me and my family from food, I won’t be wrestling with him. He will get the business end of one of my different weapons.

That sounds well and good but what if your gun jams Pat? Fair enough question and you have to be ready and willing to get physical too. The world of combat has many disciplines and I am no expert on which is the best. Krav Maga has been put forth as an effective fighting style that can save your life. Is it better than boxing or judo or Brazilian grappling or any one of hundreds of other styles? I don’t know and I can’t say what will work best for you, but investigate self-defense from as many angles as you feel comfortable with. Your life might depend on it.

The ability to heal yourself – First Aid

People get hurt every day and in a survival situation you should have basic skills to stop bleeding, care for wounds, fight infection and prevent further injury. Would it be great if you were a brain surgeon? Absolutely, but not many of us have the time or money for school and I don’t know if brain surgery would be the best investment of your time if you are only doing this to prepare for some emergency situation.

Basic first aid on the other hand is very valuable. I don’t expect many of us will be conducting surgery but for many injuries our body has an amazing ability to heal itself. All we can do is help it and having some basic medical supplies and a little know how never hurts. Good medical reference materials are great to acquire now so that you have them on hand if something were to happen before you could get back to Amazon.com.

The ability to pull your own weight – Physical Fitness

When I was in the Army we had PT every morning. I would be lying if I said I jumped up at the sound of my alarm and bounded outside to wait in formation for PT to start with a big cheery grin on my ugly mug. PT for was luckily forced on me and I was in pretty decent shape back then. Motivating yourself to be physically healthy is hard for some people, but the better shape you are in now, the more able you will be to take the stress and physical requirements of a much harder life.

We sit around a major part of the day largely because of the conveniences we have. We don’t have to go very far for water or to use the bathroom. We purchase food by the trunk load and rely on cars to get us where we want to go, engines till our soil and we purchase anything we need instead of making it. Take away electricity, vehicles and engines and life just got much harder. Many people who are so sedentary now that they rarely get out of the house, will likely die shortly in a world gone dark when they are suddenly required to move more than they are used to. Sure, there will be a good portion of people who soldier through it, lose weight and regain muscle like they did in Wall-E, but many more will not.

Nobody expects you to be a weight lifter or a marathon runner, but how much weight can you lift? Can you do 20 push ups without slowing down? How about 5? How far can you walk with that 50 pound Bug Out Bag? How far do you walk each day now? Can you run? Act now to get in better shape. You don’t have to have zero body fat, but you need to be physically able to perform tasks to simply stay alive. Can you garden all day and defend your home too? Are you able to haul water from that stream 1 mile downhill?

Some additional information:

The ability to read a map – Land Navigation

I use my GPS on my phone more times than I want to admit. Remember the good old days when you had to know street names and before you would go somewhere new you had to ask for directions? OK, it doesn’t sound like it was better, but we were conditioned to get around in a different way that wasn’t reliant upon technology. Everyone had maps in their glove compartment. You watched for street names before blindly turning and ending up going the wrong way.

Even if the grid doesn’t go down and satellites aren’t falling from the sky you may have to rely on something besides your phone to get around. Want to get off the grid? Leave that phone behind and walk into the woods. You may need to map alternate routes to your bug out location or navigate around cities that have descended into chaos. Knowing how to read a map to get where you are going could be a much-needed prepper skill.

Some additional information:

The ability to read the future – Situational Awareness

OK, technically you wont be able to tell the future, but having a good sense of situational awareness and practicing your observation skills could help you in ways that may seem to the uniformed that you knew what was coming ahead of time. Make sure you know what is going on in your immediate area by getting your face out of your phone. Make sure you know what is happening in your city by paying attention to the news, observing the people around you and what they are doing. Follow regional and state-wide events usual alternate media and radio programs as well as keeping tabs on international news. What happens in other nations could wind its way to your neck of the woods. Will you have a plan in place ready to act or will you be caught off guard?

The ability to keep your eye on the prize – Kill complacency and the normalcy bias

I mentioned in the beginning of this article that preppers have occasionally been linked to people who predicted the end of the world, somewhat prematurely. Time after time, preppers have focused on an impending event that rallied them into action only to suffer a form of let down when nothing came to pass. Imagine being disappointed that the world didn’t stop on 1.1.2000 or the end of the world didn’t materialize when the Mayan calendar said it was supposed to.

Prepping is about surviving anything that comes your way. We diversify our prepping focus and plan for what we need to live so that we have the tools, gear, knowledge and plans to stay alive regardless of the evil creeping down the street. Just because the economy doesn’t collapse on the day they said it would, you can’t give up and sell all of your prepper supplies to your neighbor for pennies on the dollar. If there never is a military coup, don’t give up prepping and ignore that garden. You have to stay focused because the people who give up, the people who think everything is fine are the ones hit first during tragedy. Instead of believing that you are impervious and nothing bad will ever happen, continue to scan the horizon for threats and take comfort in knowing you are prepared even if on your deathbed you have been proven wrong.

Prepping is often compared to life insurance and I can’t think of a better example. I spend money on insuring the things I do not want to lose. Prepping is my personal insurance plan that I hope I never need, but if I do I want to have all the prepper skills mentioned above to help me survive.

There will always be arguments over style, but it seems that the ideas behind the motivation to prepare are catching on. News reports actually reference preppers from time to time

You could ask this question of a half-dozen people and get as many ideas or views.

One of the more common views is; someone who is ‘paranoid’ and who collects/stockpiles and stores equipment (including guns and ammo), food and supplies in preparation for some kind of looming doomsday event.

Personally I am concerned that some people harbor this largely inaccurate view of ‘Preppers‘.

Allow me to provide my definition of a ‘Prepper’, but first let’s look at the current Wikipedia definition:


“A Prepper is an individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of, or prior to, any change in normal circumstances…”

So, as we see from this definition, there are no allegations of ‘paranoia’ or condemnation for anti-social behavior.

Nonetheless, from my chair, this definition lacks critical details relating to the motives or reasons for ‘prepping’ as well as the resulting mechanisms and tactics.

From my perspective Preppers are:

Anyone who has observed recent history and the re-occurring disasters (both natural and made-caused) that have resulted in massive casualties and/or loss of life, and in consideration of lessons learned or stemming from such events coupled with the odds of the re-occurrence of any such events, takes appropriate and measured steps to deal-with and/or survive any such events which may occur in their environment.

A Prepper could be: A man/woman/family who reads a newspaper story about a fire in a two-story home, where the occupants died because there were trapped on the second-floor, so they went-out and bought a window-deployed ladder and trained-on how to deploy and use said ladder.

Of course this is a highly simplified example. Most Preppers are intelligent enough to realize that there many more statistically credible events, including but not limited to fires, that require some form of preparations through the acquisition and subsequent training using various types of equipment.

Another Prepper might be a person who: Observed the events of the recent Hurricane Harvey, by either witnessing or reading about how thousands of people went without clean water, food, shelter and electricity for many weeks, even though Government organizations tried to provide assistance. And in response to the clear and obvious lessons learned from the people who suffered, in combination with the odds and frequency of a re-occurrence of another hurricane or storm, this person goes out and buys some food, water, flashlights, tent/sleeping bags and other such supplies and stores them for emergency use.

These foregoing simplified examples are by no means ineffective or worthless precautions, nor do they reflect any unhealthy form of paranoia or cult activity. No more so than people making certain of having a spare-tire and jack in the trunk of a car. The fact that millions of people insist on having a spare-tire and jack is certainly no indication of a ‘cult movement’.

There are various levels of being prepared and that has a lot to with a person’s financial ability to provide some measure of preparedness for a multitude of statistically meaningful risk scenarios. Just as with a person’s ability to buy various amounts of life insurance protection (another ‘cult’ activity). And the reason for the reference to the word ‘cult’ is a poke at a psychologist who recently alluded to the Prepper movement a ‘cult movement’.

One example of a more complex prepping scenario might be a family who lives in a two or three story home that is situated; within the 100-year flood-plain of a nearby river, where said location is also on a major active earthquake fault-line; and, is in the tornado belt of the U.S. with additional exposure to the effects of coastal hurricanes…. and yes, there are more than a million homes in this exact situation!

In this example, this family would be quite reasonable and prudent in taking the following measures, including but not limited to:

  1. Buying and installing some form of underground tornado shelter
  2. Buying and equipping their home with fire and smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and collapsible deploy-able ladders from the upper floor windows of the house.
  3. Buying and training in the use of an advanced first-aid kit.
  4. Having at least a two weeks supply of water and food for everyone in the home.
  5. Buying some form of a small boat (inflatable or rigid) with some lifejackets and emergency signaling devices.
  6. Buying an emergency two-way radio with a NOAA weather channel.

And in respect to all of the aforementioned equipment; training in the proper use of all of it.

Any physiologist that infers that people who are preparing for statically relevant risks is uninformed and narrow minded. And such a person will likely be one of the first people that require the services of emergency services in the event of any disaster.

In fact, I would bet that if we randomly tested a dozen such people (psychologists) on something as simple as how to change a flat tire, or how to check the power-steering fluid on their own cars, most would fail to be able to do so. And I am sure that we could find some other psychologist somewhere who would have a ’study’ and a scientific name for people like that (who can’t do much for themselves), which might likely be couched as a form of mental disability as well. So when I read about one or two psychologists calling Preppers ‘cultists‘, I have to laugh, thinking of them standing helpless in the rain trying to figure-out how to put a spare tire on their own car, which is something that any Prepper can do.

So far, we have covered the basics, but what is a Prepper in the greatest sense of the definition?

Again, the answer varies; from my perspective it’s this:

A Prepper is in a constant state of studying his environment and learning, using that information on both a daily basis and in the event of an actual emergency. Preppers are not worried about potential events that occur every million years and the like.

They are in fact not worried about much! That’s because they have done the calculus and understand the frequency of potential events. And in weighted-proportion to the odds of such risks, have taken prudent measures through the acquisition of equipment and training so they are in a better position to maximize their odds of surviving many credible potential disasters, as well as possibly being in a position to help others around them.

People who are not so prepared merely place added risks on the people around them once they become desperate. This phenomenon was observed in the aftermath of Katrina where desperate people took advantage of anyone around them! Even inside the (‘safety’) of FEMA camps that were established for the survivors of Katrina, gangs took over inside the camps and engaged in all forms of criminal activities, including assault, extortion and rape.

Using a martial arts analogy, in the sense that a ‘white-belt’ might be someone that is just getting starting and has little knowledge, training and equipment, some people might be black-belt Preppers, having accumulated a wealth of knowledge, experience and equipment.

The one thing that I think is greatly misunderstood by many people, Preppers included, is that Prepping picks up where bushcraft skills leave off. In fact, I believe that bush-crafting skills are the ground-level prerequisites for Prepping.

Preppers need to first master their bushcrafts before they move on to more complex technological skills! Preppers should first master being a ‘minimalist’ (survivalist) and be able to live off the grid with almost nothing. I am talking about all the key bushcraft skills that are taught at survival schools. You have to be able to make fire without a lighter, matches or a fire-steel. You have to be able to make tools from nature, find water, maker a shelter, hunt, fish, trap and forage among other bushcrafting skills.

There are many ways to accomplish this in baby steps… The Scouting programs (Cub Scouts, Boy/Girl Scouts, etc.) are great starting points and are not limited to just kids! Adults can join-in as assistants to Scout Masters and learn the skills by helping out. There are also many wilderness survival schools where you can spend a weekend or even a week or two in the field, and get all the basics down in one effort.

Going to the next level, is in my opinion, where prepping begins. I believe that a Prepper must have it all; seeking bush-crafting skills and the training to fully maximize the use of many technologies as required for long-term survival, including the integration and use of modern supplies, materials and equipment into a basic survival platform.

Post Disaster survival may require long-periods of time, possibly up to years. So you must transcend mere survival and engage in living with some comforts. This is where old-school skills will shine and where the ability to design and build rudimentary equipment will greatly enhance long term survival. If you possess the skills and mental abilities, you can design and build post-disaster equipment from nature; Windmills and hydro-mechanical-power and much more can be at the center of off-grid homesteads and small population centers.

Some readers may be thinking this sounds too easy? Have you tried building a drive-gear from wood without any modern tools? Can you do the geometry and math to figure the gear sizes and ratios? These are questions that some Preppers have put to the test.

As we see, there are almost as many definitions of what a ‘Prepper’ is as there experts on the subject.

From my chair, too many people believe that a Prepper is just someone who has collected a lot of guns and ammo, and has stored a lot of gear and supplies. That however is not a view I hold, even though there are some people who do exactly that thinking they are in fact Preppers.

In my opinion, a ‘Prepper’, in the broadest sense of the definition, has mastered all of the basic bushcrafts just as a pre-requisite to mastering many other advanced skill sets such as survival engineering (building systems that will allow long-term survival with some comforts), just as one example. Survival Engineering requires a deep understanding of basic chemistry and physics, as well as being able to use or re-purpose almost any piece of modern equipment that may be needed in an emergency.  Does ‘MacGyver’ come to mind?

Here’s one off-the-wall  example of the value of multiple ‘Prepper’ skills:

If we were standing in Seattle, WA and the SHTF, how would we get out of town and into the remote mountain areas quickly? Being surrounded by a million people and sudden grid-lock will make all surface streets impassable; people will be out of control… and the risk factor is high and rising.

If I was alone or with a few friends, I could easily make it on-foot to one of many small local airparks (small neighborhood airstrips) where there are many small airplanes. I am not in any way suggesting that I would ever break any laws, but just like other pilots, I do have the skills to effectively (safely) ’borrow’ almost any airplane or helicopter and I could easily fly to a mountain valley in Canada. This would give me and whoever was with me a real shot at getting established in the woods and set-up well before any of the Zombies (armed survivors from the cites) arrived on our position, many days or weeks later.

As we see in this ‘one of many’ possible examples, having specialized skill-sets beyond bushcrafts provides many more tactical options and greatly increases the odds of surviving. And that is what it’s all about!

So a real Prepper is not just someone who is ‘prepped’ by buying a lot of ‘stuff’. A ‘Prepper’ is anyone who has aggregated a host of skills that extend beyond bushcrafts, martial arts, firearms, medical and basic survival skills, as well as the relevant equipment and supplies….. A ‘Black-belt’ Prepper… so to speak.

In the end, none of us really knows what skills and equipment may make the difference between life and death for ourselves or the people around us during or after any disaster.

Certainly risk assessment is all about the mathematics and odds. You have to do the math, establish the odds of any particular risks, and combined with your own abilities and resources, coupled with maintaining your desired lifestyle, try to reasonably address those risks which are statistically relevant in a reasonable and proportional manner.

It’s like having that spare tire and a jack in the trunk… once you do, you don’t worry about having a flat.


You could ask this question of a half-dozen people and get as many ideas or views. One of the more common views is; someone who is ‘paranoid’ and who collects/stockpiles and

Everyone has a personal bias they bring to any situation they are placed in. Your mental baggage is formed in part by who you are (your life experiences, how you were raised, personal beliefs or principles) and what you think you know (skills, training, history, and evidence) combined with the various factors of the situation or how it relates to you in terms of personal risk/reward. Put 6 people in a room and catch the room on fire, you will have 6 different responses at least internally to what each individual is thinking and is capable of doing. Or at least that is what I think.

I do believe that for whatever reason – and I know smarter people than I have studied and diagrammed this out millions of times – that each of us has our own opinion based upon, for lack of a more scientific term, what we feel in our gut. How our gut gets programmed is a science arrived at by the specific disciplines I mentioned above more or less I believe and maybe 1 part supernatural, but regardless of how we get to what we are; each of us brings our own perspective to everything we do. It is no different with potential threats we all consider when we are talking about SHTF and how best to prepare for those threats as we see them in our own minds. What is our gut telling us about the various threats and how should we react knowing what we think we know and dealing within the realities of our current lives?

All of this is to say that we all have different opinions on what is important. We all make our own determinations as to what is reasonable for us individually and each of us comes to the subject of prepping, with respect to the threats we visualize, from a different point of view. How in a world of so many various viewpoints and opinions, advantages and limitations can anyone say they have a concrete step by step plan for all people that will guarantee safety and security without fail?

The bottom line is you can’t.

I take with a grain of salt anyone who proposes to sell you a 10-step program that promises to solve all your problems. You should look at the information on Final Prepper the same way if we start doing that. Even from my own perspective, I speak in generalities more often than some people are comfortable with because I believe that you have to make the best decisions for yourself and your family based on what your gut is telling you. I can share areas of consideration that I can argue make sense, but I can’t make the specific detailed decisions for you because I am not you. I don’t know what you know. I don’t live where you live. I may never go through the same things you go through and I may not act the way you would act when confronted with the same information.

Too often we look for the easy way out and I am just as guilty of doing this as anyone from time to time myself. We just want a magic box of preparedness that we can stash in the closet that will give us everything we need. We don’t want to think about what is in that magic box and we don’t want it to take up too much space or require us to pay attention to it from time to time. We just want someone to send us the box that will do anything we need it to if we have a disaster. People want to be prepared just by owning a “kit” and then having that box checked, we can go on with our lives. Preparedness to me isn’t just about having stuff (your survival kit), it is taking steps in a direction that puts you on a path to preparedness that you are constantly traveling. The destination is never reached.

I don’t believe there is any magic kit of preparedness that you can purchase. There isn’t a single list of prepper supplies that will cover any and every contingency that you could ever be faced with but I do believe there is a strategy you can follow that can guide you down the right path towards being better prepared for any crisis. So absent the rationale of the specific threat itself which we might all disagree with; what do we all as humans need to do to be prepared for any crisis that we face from Alien invasion to Zombies? (Note to the new reader to Final Prpper, that signifies A to Z… not that I only believe in highly improbable events)

Physical health and ability are just as important as having the gear.

Are you physically prepared for any crisis?

I can’t imagine that too many people would argue with the statement that a physically healthy individual is better prepared to handle any crisis. I have discussed this on Final Prepper before and this isn’t a new topic by any stretch on prepping blogs, but I see so many people who are out of shape but believe they are going to be running through the woods with a giant overloaded bug out bag on their backs. Have you gone to almost any store and looked at the overall physical health of people? I would say that where I live, a majority are toting an extra 100 pounds on their mid-section. I shouldn’t need to pull up statistics on obesity in the US, but survival in great measure depends on strength, endurance and the need for hard work and movement. If any of these are difficult to do on a normal day, how do you feel it will be when it is raining aliens from another planet?

All joking about aliens aside, even if you have the latest bulletproof vest, survival rifle and all the tactical battle gear in the world, that doesn’t mean you are prepared as well as possible to survive. Even if you have 500 cases of the best freeze dried food on the planet, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a heart attack carrying it up the stairs. If you aren’t able to run a couple of miles, carry that bug out bag for a few days or work hard in your yard all weekend without pulling something or being laid up the next week with body pains; you should consider how this might affect your overall chances at surviving anything.

This is not directed at the more senior of us out there who may have age related health issues, but if you are a 30 year old man who can’t do any push ups, couldn’t run 2 miles to save your life, but have spent thousands of dollars on the must-have prepper gear you should stop and think about getting physically prepared now. If the crap hits the fan chances are you won’t be able to do a Jillian Michaels workout in your living room fast enough to get in shape before you need to.

Are you mentally prepared for any crisis?

I think the mental angle of preparedness is more important than just about any other aspect of prepping when you consider everything that goes into forming, executing and possibly modifying your preparedness plan. Going back to what I said at the start of this article, you can’t simply buy a ton of gear, lock that in a safe and call yourself prepared. There is a mental component to analyzing data that changes daily. Certainly having supplies stored up is a component, but mentally you have to work through the problems of figuring out what supplies you might need and in what quantities. You will have to adjust for your own environment so that could involve researching alternatives and there is your own reality. You may have small children that require different approaches than an older teen for example might need. Prepping is a lot of thought and it is this process of research and a lot of trial and error that has informed my prepping plans more than any book.

In addition to knowledge, mentally you have to consider the various outcomes possible from some of these scenarios you are preparing for. It doesn’t matter if you have the best handgun in the world. If someone comes to your home intent on harming you or taking your supplies, are you prepared to use that handgun? What good is stocking up in the first place and purchasing a weapon for security unless you have made the mental decisions about what you will do if ever placed in that situation? In the end it will boil down to what you actually do and your mental preparations need to take this into consideration. The magic box isn’t going to think for you.

Are you logistically prepared for any crisis?

I saved this for last because it is less important in most respects than the other two in my opinion. I believe knowledge trumps stuff, but stuff can and will benefit you. It is very important to have water on hand for example, but without it, the person who will be better prepared is the person who can go get water, disinfect it and live when it runs out. These two people are both capable of obtaining water for at least the short-term and that may be all that is necessary. Another way of looking at this is the person who doesn’t have any water stored, but is able to go out and acquire it may be putting themselves at greater risk that the person who has it stored at home.

A well-rounded prepper should both know how to make do without supplies and ideally have those supplies at their disposal when they are needed. This gets into subjects like food storage, having a garden that is producing, having first aid supplies and self-defensive weapons. I am not advocating having a lot of “stuff” without knowing how to make it work for you, but if you do have a fully stocked pantry, a working garden or livestock that you can depend on for food if the stores are no longer working, you may have an advantage over the person who knows how to create a snare to trap small game; at least initially. Long-term Daniel Boone will be better prepared, but in the short-term I wouldn’t advocate relying entirely on your ability to acquire food in the forests.

In addition to supplies, you may have to move. Are you prepared to leave your home if needed? I know my personal plan is to shelter-in-place, but I know that can change. If it does, my family has prepared to go on foot. We have options should my perfect disaster situation not work out like I hope. Going back to mental preparation, this backup planning and strategizing will help you.

Prepping gets distilled down to simple lists and advice, but there are tons of things to think about. I personally think the act of thinking about the various topics benefits each of us. Certainly conversations on this blog inform others so I welcome the dialog.

Have you thought outside of your magic box?

Everyone has a personal bias they bring to any situation they are placed in. Your mental baggage is formed in part by who you are (your life experiences, how you

Things had not gone exactly as planned for Louis, Julia, and their three-year-old twins Melissa and Victor. For a couple of years, they had been budgeting for supplies, learning survival skills, and even made bug out plan full of contingencies. The plan was simple but all the details were meticulously addressed by the couple, throw a few pre-packed bags into the car and drive the 90 miles to Julia’s grandparents farm.

Louis didn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on the best AR-15 that money could buy. Besides budget constraints, they were illegal to own in his home state anyway. So, Louis lovingly maintained his .357 revolver. After using his revolver to “clear the road” while getting out of town, the shook up the family quietly made the rest of the drive to Julia’s family farm.

That was until high water was blocking the road only 20 miles from their destination. Because of their maps and pre-planning, Louis and Julia knew the way around the water, along the two-lane country roads, and through the little towns to their destination. Inside, Louis was emotional after firing his weapon. He played the cool-headed strong father that his family needed. He wasn’t real keen on getting off the highway and doubling the amount of time they would spend on the road. Even though they had done a “map recon” the road ahead was not so clear. Louis figured he had enough ammo to protect his family but he wished there was a way to resupply before heading on the road less traveled…..

Many people, when first joining the preparedness community initially focus on guns and ammo. They want nice, useful, and effective weaponry and enough ammunition to last for years and years before needing to purchase more. After a few years of prepping and a few years’ worth of trips to the rifle range, those once fired brass rifle and pistol cartridges can really pile up, assuming they are collected after shooting.

With about $300 to $400 invested in reloading equipment, all those hundreds or even thousands of once fired brass casings can be reloaded for a tremendous savings over buying factory new ammunition. Sometimes the savings can be as drastic as 80% of the price of purchasing new ammo! Most preppers on a budget can really appreciate that amount of savings. So, many people will buy a single stage reloading press and keep the equipment at their primary residence, where it makes sense to store it, and cut the cost of their preps by reloading. But can reloading equipment be worthwhile to bring on a bug out?

Bugging out with reloading capacity

When most people consider reloading equipment, their thoughts are of single stage reloading presses or progressive reloaders. This equipment is a great addition to anyone’s preps. But this stuff is heavy and bulky. Also, progressive loaders are best set up in the most efficient manner and left in place, not toted around in a suitcase or ruck sack. A single stage press can be more easily mobile than a progressive loader but is still not practical to pack along, even on a vehicle bug out or for an INCH kit when space and weight are limiting factors.

That leaves a cartridge loader set for consideration as a practical way to include reloading in a bug out plan. Even though cartridge loaders and cartridge loader kits have limitations, they can be very effective tools to maintain an ammunition supply in a survival or grid down scenario. In the following discussion, these three reloading set ups will be examined for their strengths and weaknesses as related to bug out applications and some of the limitations of the different equipment will be addressed with recommendations to improve their practicality.

When most people consider reloading equipment, their thoughts are of single stage reloading presses or progressive reloaders.

The Cartridge Loader

Most people begin reloading with a single stage press. It may not be the fastest method. It may not be the cheapest option either. However, the single stage press produces the consistent, accurate, and high quality ammunition that makes people want to start and continue in reloading. The single stage press is less mechanically complicated and less expensive than the progressive loader. It is easier to maintain consistency and precision with a single stage press than it is with a cartridge loader. For these reasons, the overwhelming choice for beginning reloaders is the single stage press.

A single stage press makes a perfect set up for reloading to cut cost and maintain ammo supply at a home base. Some people will choose to buy a progressive loader after using a single stage press for a period. If the single stage press is replaced with a progressive loader in the home set up, it is a great idea to cache the single stage press that is no longer being used at a bug out location. Additionally, learning to reload and reload well on a single stage press will help the hand-loader get the best performance out of a cartridge loader. Because of size and weight considerations, the cartridge loader is the practical and effective equipment choice for reloading on the run.

Cartridge loader sets, similar to the Lee Classic Loader for example, have been in use since the proliferation of the metallic cartridge. Often, these were sold along with a new firearm just as safety locks are sold with new guns today. In the 1870’s it was likely that the local general store may not have ammo for a person’s new firearm, so the cartridge loader allowed the owner to keep firing his / her weapon after all the cases were spent. The principles of using the antique cartridge loaders and the modern ones are basically the same. The body of the cartridge loader, like the Lee Classic Loader, is assembled in different ways and struck with a dead blow or non-marring mallet to perform the different reloading tasks of depriming, forming, and bullet seating. These little kits are caliber specific, like a set of dies, and come with a little powder dipper. To get the best performance out of these kits and make them a viable bug out option, their limitations must be understood and minimized.

The Lee Classic Loader comes with the tools needed to perform the reloading steps of depriming, sizing, priming, and bullet seating. It also includes a powder dipper. However, there are a few extra things that will help with reloading ammunition on the move.

A case mouth deburring tool is small, inexpensive, and useful for cartridge prep. Also, a dial caliper is needed to check cartridge case length and overall cartridge length. Additionally, a hard-plastic case for the dial caliper is necessary to protect it from damage. Finally, the issue of measuring powder must be addressed. A receiver failure during bug out would be unacceptable.

The included powder measure is not acceptable as is, and was never intended to be a standalone powder measuring device for bug out reloading. There are many companies that will make custom powder dippers to exact specification and unless a scale is carried around this is a necessary purchase to add to this reloading kit. Even with the best custom powder dipper, some variation in powder charge from load to load is to be expected. To help minimize the variations, test the powder measure at home before adding it to the kit.

Scoop the powder gently the same way each time so that more powder by weight is not compacted into the scooper. Level it by either tapping or by scraping across the top but do it consistently. Then, weigh the results on a scale to get an average weight and learn the best and most consistent technique. With powder charges, consistency is important!

It is also necessary to add some case lubricant to the kit. Finally, the kit needs a nonmarring or dead blow mallet to power the loading tool. The overachiever could add a cylinder type case length gauge to the kit as well. This reloading set up fits in a small toiletry bag with plenty of room to spare. Add some powder, primers, and bullets for a complete mobile reloading station capable of maintaining and extending a person’s ammunition supply.

There are limitations to this mobile reloading kit. Most notably, it is powered by a hammer which makes lots of noise. A bug out may not always include active evasion but it rarely includes active attention seeking either. For the rural settings, the noise of a hammer banging away carries a long distance over an open area. And if sheltering in an abandoned building in an urban setting, the banging noise will likewise give away one’s location.

This kit is used in the interim to maintain the ammunition supply. It can be enhanced greatly by the addition of a few extra reloading tools cached at the bug out location. A triple beam balance powder scale and a powder trickler are inexpensive and would greatly improve the accuracy and consistency of ammunition loaded with the kit if these were placed ahead of time at the bug out destination. A hand priming tool would be convenient and easy to use.

Additionally, a case trimmer and a cylinder type cartridge minimum / maximum case length gauge could go a long way to increase the number of times a cartridge could be reloaded in an extended bug out. A few extra tools in cache will greatly improve the reloading ability. Of course, if a reloader had a progressive loader set up at home as a primary reloading means, the older and no longer used single stage press could also be left at the bug out destination. With these extra larger tools left at the bug out location and some components in cache, the survivalist can greatly extend his / her ammo supply.

In conclusion, many people do not consider reloading on a bug out to be viable because of the size and weight of traditionally considered reloading equipment. However, when packing for a vehicle bug out or putting together an extensive INCH kit, there is a great opportunity to include reloading equipment. By thinking outside of normal applications for reloading equipment, the resourceful prepper can benefit greatly from adding reloading to his / her tool kit. Aside from saving money in good times, reloading can stretch and extend the ammunition supply in an extended survival scenario. Aside from just stockpiling more and more ammo, give these reloading set ups some serious thought and consider how including reloading can benefit preparedness.

Things had not gone exactly as planned for Louis, Julia, and their three-year-old twins Melissa and Victor. For a couple of years, they had been budgeting for supplies, learning survival

On October 21, 2016, the internet broke. Netflix, Twitter, Paypal, and more were all hacked, and it took most of the day for representatives from the many major companies affected to find, fix and implement the problems. For most people, this was a minor disruption to their day. To my teenage daughter, the SHTF situation we’ve all been waiting for was occurring right then and there. She instantly lost at least half of her ability to communicate and find news, she lost her entire source of entertainment, and she lost the ability to pay for anything online, even if temporarily.

I think it’s safe to say that we could all live without Twitter. Netflix is a great modern convenience, but we could live without that too. What would happen, though, if we lost Wikipedia? I know that I reference Wikipedia at least twice a day, whether it’s for random historical trivia, information I need for work, or items of interest I’m using to plan my next prepping project. To lose access to what I consider to be the major source for all accumulated human knowledge would be a major blow. News recently broke that the Turkish government is preventing it’s citizens from accessing Wikipedia.

The outage I referenced earlier was one of the largest in the short history of the internet, and it was, fortunately, quite temporary, lasting around 12 hours. What if it affected your personal PC? The infamous computer hijacks and ransomware that have been plaguing PC users for the past few years often destroy and corrupt enough of your internal data that it cannot be recovered. What if it were permanent? That could be an EMP attack or a CME that wipes out all power, or it could be a targeted hack that we can’t figure out how to solve, or something else entirely. What happens if our government passes laws similar to those already in place in Turkey and many Asian countries which prohibits access to sites which they have decided contain information they don’t want shared?

I don’t have all the answers to these problems, but I know one potential solution – Local Data Backup. Most amateur computer owners have one or more PCs, with probably only one or two copies of their most important data – resumes, scans of birth certificates and other legal documents, family photos and more. The true solution is to have many copies of your important data stored locally, updated frequently, and maintained in a Faraday cage in case of an EMP attack.

To start, you’ll want a high-capacity data external storage device. I would recommend at least 5 terabytes of storage space per unit, and multiple drives if possible. You should also have at least one or two flash drives that store at least small parts of this information. This should run you about $200. That, and an older computer or tablet with a USB cord and an internet connection should be all you need for this invaluable project. I’ve heard some preppers who prefer to maintain optical discs with information on them, but a number of the solutions I want to implement will require files that are larger than the storage capacity of a single DVD or CD. You’d also have to consider storage space – all those discs and the disc drive itself will take up more space than a single external drive.

Personal Data comes first

The chances of any computer contracting a virus or a worm while you’re surfing the internet (yes, even you Apple people) is significantly higher than the chances of an EMP attack happening in next few weeks. It’s important to have a copy of your birth certificates and other important documents, including copies of social security cards, recent pictures of your immediate family, address and phone contact information, and other information available for bug-out situations, and it’s valuable to have that data stored in a variety of locations, including on your external hard drive. It is also highly recommended that you maintain a copy of receipts or warranty’s for major appliances, and pictures of each of the rooms in your house. It is possible that, in the event of a major flood or fire, that you could use these items to help increase the amount of money you can get back from home insurance as proof of at least some of the major items you’re keeping in each area of your house.

Second, survival. One of the first tricks that preppers learn when getting involved in the lifestyle of preparedness is that it’s possible to download a wide variety of “prepper manuals” online, including military survival PDFs and other documents. You could even save valuable web pages and articles for offline viewing. I have printed many materials to put in a binder, but again, that takes valuable storage space, and could be easily destroyed in a fire or a flood. My digital copies of data, so long as they remain well-protected in their Faraday cage, are safe from most dangers.

Next is the broad category of “items of personal importance” which could include almost anything that you find important to keep around. What’s in my collection? Family photos & videos take up a large bulk of my storage space. A simple feed scanner that you can purchase on Amazon for about $100 will allow you to scan and store thousands upon thousands of photos onto your external drive, where they are well-protected from flood damage and fading due to aging, and where you can easily gift them to another relative to open up more storage space under your stairs for prepping supplies. All of my wife’s hard work on our family tree is now scanned and preserved in it’s own folder as well for the next generation to continue the work, as are my grandfather’s old diaries we’ve been left. I also keep a local copy of any digital media I own, which is everything from digital copies of Disney movies that come for free with the Blu-Rays I’ve purchased for my kids, to those new music albums that I’ve bought as MP3s because it was cheaper and more convenient than buying the disc. I’ve got downloaded digital copies of my Audible collection, and a few Kindle books as well. Essentially, if I’ve paid money for it, I have a copy of it on my external drive that I can download and access forever, even if these host companies go out of business or lock my accounts.

Additional data to backup

Finally, you can do what I’ve done and keep a localized backup copy of Wikipedia and other sources of world knowledge. Many of these archive sites allow anyone to download a full copy of the entire site, and with a Wiki reader, it’s possible to maintain a version of Wikipedia which does not require the internet to search. In addition, you can also download a few other collections for posterity , including a huge collection of out-of-copyright novels from Project Gutenberg that could keep you reading for your entire lifetime without having to purchase a new book.

I believe that maintaining at least a bare-bones minimum of these documents and files is essential regardless of whether you take the steps necessary to protect this data from an EMP. For that, a Faraday cage – an enclosure completely surrounded by metal on all sides – is important. There have been thousands of people before me who have discussed the creation of such a device, so I’ll leave them to it. Suffice it to say that if an EMP occurs, it is widely assumed that almost all electronic equipment that is not protected is in jeopardy. That means that if you are taking the time to store data, you also need to store some kind of old computer or laptop capable of accessing the data, and a backup copy of installation files for programs you can use to read them. That means that you want a PDF reader installed, as well as programs that will allow you to view photos and videos, and if you have movies or audio-books tied to a service like Audible, you’ll need to have those installed.

Is this doable for Preppers?

The value of a project like this is in the details. First, it preserves a large amount of your family’s history, making it more accessible for younger, computer-savvy members of your family to learn about and carry on the knowledge we have as a modern society and many of the traditions that you hold dear. Second, this is a great way to make more space in your life (for prepping supplies, or whatever else you want to have). I was able to re-gift fifteen banker’s boxes worth of photos, VHS tapes, diaries, CD-ROMs and floppy discs full of data and combine them into one external hard drive, and I purchased a second drive to send to a distant relative overseas as a holiday gift that meant the world to him. Finally, I truly believe that with cloud computing, government regulations on access to information, and an ever-increasing life-or-death reliance on technology, there will come a time when the freedom of the internet and our personal data will be under attack. Having at least a portion of that knowledge stored in a metal trash can in your garage where Big Brother can’t find it might make all the difference.

Is this an expensive project? Yes, it certainly can be. A good quality hard drive along with a backup copy of a computer and a Faraday cage could cost a pretty penny. There’s no doubt that this is a long and difficult project as well. Even with a fairly fast feeder scanner for photos and small documents, but with searching and downloading times for files, and figuring out how to store this data for ease of use, it took me the better part of all Winter and Spring to make this a reality. How much of this would be useful in a true SHTF situation? Potentially quite a lot, potentially not at all. The information on that Wikipedia backup might be invaluable, but you may also not have the electrical power to access the data. As a project that has so many qualifications, this is likely not applicable to all preppers, but for those who have enough backup water filters, have installed their solar panels, and have too many boxes of old photos you can’t get rid of, this is a great project to start this year to help not only modernize but also to help prepare.

On October 21, 2016, the internet broke. Netflix, Twitter, Paypal, and more were all hacked, and it took most of the day for representatives from the many major companies affected

Unless you’re a psychic, you never know when s*** is going to hit the fan. If and when a crisis occurs, the last thing you want is to be unprepared. But prepping isn’t always easy. With so much contradicting information out there, it can be difficult to separate the good information from the bad. With that said, I want to show you 10 awesome prepping tips that actually work. By following this advice, you’ll be ready for any survival situation.

#10: Build a Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag is basically an emergency kit that will provide you with the ability to survive for a minimum of 72 hours after a crisis. They should contain all of the essentials required for survival: food, water, basic first aid equipment, etc. While you can buy a bug out bag that’s already comes with items, it’s much better to build one in my opinion. Not only is it cheaper, but it also allows you to know exactly what’s in your bug out bag.

#9: Stock Up on Non-Perishable Food Items

Meal Kit Supply

There’s no sense in stocking up on foods that have a short lifespan. Why? Because you never know how long grocery store shelves will remain empty. Non-perishable food items include dried oats, dried rice, honey, powdered milk, and dried means. It’s also a good idea to invest in MREs (Meals-Ready-to-Eat). When purchased in bulk, they can be relatively inexpensive. Plus, they’re super-practical. Finally, consider investing in a food dehydrator so you can dehydrate foods.

#8: Check for Expired Food Items

This is one of the most overlooked prepping tips out there. There’s no use to having a bunch of food stored if it’s all expired. It’s much healthier to not eating anything at all than to eat something that’s expired. For this reason, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for when expiration dates are due. That way, you’ll know exactly what to throw out and re-stock on. Note, by learning advanced food storage techniques, this will become less of an issue.

#7: Rotate Clothing Based on Season

Another big mistake that a lot of people make is not rotating their clothing based on whatever season they are in. For example, during winter months, make sure that you have jackets and other insulating clothing packed in your bug out bag. Then, as the summer months roll in, swap out those clothes with lighter ones. That way, you’ll be prepared for the specific type of whether that your location is currently experiencing. This is one of those prepping tips that are super-important to remember.

#6: Focus on “The Big Three”

As a general rule, your emergency kit should be located in three places: in your car, in your home, and at your office. Why? Because you can’t predict when a crisis is going to occur. A bug out bag isn’t any good at home if you’re at work (and vice versa). By having emergency kits in all three locations, you’ll be able to reach them no matter what, and ultimately increase your chances of survival.

#5: Read Survival/Prepping Books

How to Protect Yourself Against Terrorism, Natural Disasters, Fires, Home Invasions, and Everyday Health and Safety Hazards

When it comes to survival and preparedness, nothing is more important than knowledge. I would recommend reading books on the topic. Some of the more popular ones include The SAS Survival Handbook, The Prepper’s Pocket Guide, and The SAS Urban Survival Handbook. There are many other great titles out there as well. Reading is important because it teaches the fundamentals of survival when modern technology is gone. As the old saying goes, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you give him a fishing pole, you feed him for life”.

#4: Invest in Iodine Solution

I would recommend investing in a 5% or 10% iodine solution and placing some in all of your emergency kits. Aside from the fact that it can be used as a disinfectant for minor cuts, you can also use it to keep your thyroid functioning normally. Remember, iodized salt is typically enough to keep your thyroid functioning properly. However, if you run out, you’ll definitely want to have some iodine solution available. A few drops per liter is typically enough. Plus, iodine can help purify water!

#3: Weigh Your Bug Out Bag

When I first put together my bug out bag, I was happy and proud of myself. Then I picked it up, “Uh oh…” I could barely lift it. Sometimes we get so caught up in putting as much stuff in our bug out bags as possible that we forget about weight. That last thing you want when bugging out is hurting your back because your bag is too heavy. That’s why it’s a good idea to weigh your bug out bag beforehand. That way, you’ll know whether or not you’ve got too much stuff.

#2: Buy a Weapon

You don’t necessarily need to buy a gun, but it’s still a good idea to invest in some kind of weapon. Whether it be pepper spray, a Taser, or a knife, you always need something to protect yourself. And here’s why: have you ever watched a video of people on Black Friday? If not, here’s a quick look:

As you can see, these people are acting CRAZY- and there isn’t really a real threat happening. Imagine if a crisis took out the power grid and the grocery store shelves were empty. You can be rest assured that people would act far, far worse. That’s why I recommend investing in some kind of self-defense weapon (preferably a gun).

#1:  Prep a Little Each Day

We’ll leave you with one final tip: prep a little each day. Some people get discouraged from prepping because they think that they need to spend thousands of dollars to do it. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s nothing wrong with spending just a few dollars each day on supplies. Personally, I like to spend an extra $10 on canned foods each time I visit a grocery store. After a few months, it adds up to be quite a collection. Remember, prepping is a marathon, not a sprint. So be sure to treat it that way and you’ll do far better.

Bottom Line

These prepping tips should make the process much easier on you. The biggest takeaway from this article is to make sure that you have your bug out bag ready. If possible, try to have an emergency kit in your car, at your home, and at your office. That way, you’ll be prepared for anything, anytime. Good luck, and leave a comment below if you have any questions (or your own tips and strategies for prepping). Thanks for reading.

Unless you’re a psychic, you never know when s*** is going to hit the fan. If and when a crisis occurs, the last thing you want is to be unprepared.

There are some things we can still count on to remain the same after SHTF. A woman’s time of the month being one of them. Even if you are not a woman, including female hygiene items in your prepping is still a great idea!! If you have a female partner, sister or daughter over the age of 8, you can count on these items coming in handy. As an added bonus, if you don’t end up needing these things, They will still make great bargaining bags that can be used to trade for something you will use.

You may have noticed that Wal-Mart dedicates an entire section just to female hygiene products as do most grocery stores and pharmacies. There is obviously a very high demand for this need. With that said, there are hundreds if not thousands of female hygiene supplies out there. I am not going to list them all. I will be sticking with the basics that are affordable, accessible and most likely to be used. There is no point in stocking up on things you may never use when you can stock up on usable items instead and still accomplish the same goal.

Female Hygiene items to Consider

  • Menstrual products
  • Cleansing products
  • Disposal of products
  • Back up products
  • Other Issues
  • Putting it all together

Menstrual Products:

** 6-12 Supply of items you already use

If you are a woman, chances are you already know which products work best for you. I highly recommend keeping at least a 6 month supply of your favorite product/s on hand. To accomplish this you may wish to simply go buy a 6 months supply at once or you may want to consider buying two packages instead of one each month that you do your regular shopping.. put the extra pack away somewhere dry and water proof. Within 6 months you will have a 6 month supply on hand should SHTF. You can actually do this for up to a year or more if you wish. BONUS: These are products you would normally buy anyway, you are simply buying in advance so you are not wasting ANY money!!

If you are buying for someone else, you may not already have a “favorite” or collection of favorites. Don’t let this scare you away!! The most commonly used disposable products are liners, pads and tampons. I recommend a large box of liners, a large box of tampons and several large packs of pads (overnights will be your best bet). Pads are also good for minor incontinence (of urine and stool) and make a great bandage in a pinch.

Cleansing Products:

**6-12 supply of wipes and wash

Something often overlooked when it comes to this particular kind of feminine hygiene is cleanliness. Cleanliness is going to be especially important if SHTF to avoid infections and unpleasant odors. We need to keep in mind that showering and bathing may not be something we can do everyday. With that said, I highly recommend stashing some cleansing products with your menstrual products. In a pinch, some soap, water and a facecloth will do the trick but that is something I personally do not want to resort to for as long as possible. So how do we keep our lady parts clean and odor free? My personal favorite is playtex fresh wipes which are made for this specific purpose but baby wipes will do just as good for much cheaper. I’ve stashed 12 packages away with my tampons. Men, if you do not have a female in need of these you will still find them very handy when you run of toilet paper. BONUS: Baby wipes are good for everything, back up toilet paper, removing make-up, washing your face, cleaning up spills ect..

On top of the cleansing wipes, I also recommend keeping a bottle (or several) of feminine hygiene wash. It is specifically made for washing lady parts (or male ones) and makes you feel so much “fresher” then just regular soap. If SHTF feeling “fresh” may be a luxury not many have. A great wash for this is vagisil feminine wash but pick your own favorite to stock pile on.

Disposal of Products:

**Have a disposal plan before SHFT

By using the above products you will be creating garbage, unsanitary garbage at that it. It is very important to have a plan in place for disposing of these products. Where you live will play a big factor on proper disposal of bathroom products so it’s always a good idea to have more than one plan. BONUS: Everyone needs a disposal plan regardless.

Most of these products are burnable and by burning them we will be completely getting rid of the waste.

Flush it: My ideal means of disposal is to simply flush it down the toilet. Even without power most of us can still flush our toilets by pouring a bucket of water into it (I live near a brook and have a well). If you do not have an unlimited supply of water or your products are not flush able this may not work for you. **Keep a bucket handy for flushing!

Burn it: Most of these products are burnable and by burning them we will be completely getting rid of the waste. This is something that should be done outside under strict supervision and preferably not in a fire pit you use for cooking food. If this seems like a good option for you, take the steps to build a burn barrel or burn pit. You can do this for little money by using an old truck tire rim or by digging a deep hole (away from trees).

Bury it: These products take a long time to decompose so burying them is not the most ideal situation but if you have no other options this is something to consider. Have a shovel available for in the event SHTF. Dig as deep as possible and avoid burying near any source of water.

Reusable products: By using reusable products you will not be creating any extra garbage to be disposed of. This is one of the main reasons I do not stock pile more than a years supply of these items. Something that works for disposal for short-term might not be as doable long-term.

Store it: This should be an absolute last resort. In the event of bad weather or a stay-indoors warning, you may need to store used products until you can safely burn or bury them. For this reason, you may wish to invest in some zip lock bags. You can buy 100 of these small bags for as little as $1 so I recommend keeping several boxes of them along with at least one large heavy-duty bucket with a secure lid. Some kitty little or saw dust is a good idea, too. Store the soiled product in a zip lock bag then in the bucket, use the kitty litter or saw dust to help mask odors. Dispose of the contents properly as soon as possible. Brown paper bags are another more environmental friendly option.

Reusable Options – Naturally Cozy washable, reusable feminine hygiene and incontinence products

Back up Products:

**Always have a Plan B

Even if you decide to store a lifetime supply of these products it is still a good idea to have a plan B. Your stash could get ruined, you could be separated from it or you just might not be able to dispose of it. Whatever the reason, have a back up plan. Being under the impression that you can always run to the store to restock is probably not the best back up plan. BONUS: Having a back up plan for female hygiene will also provide extra options if you run out of toilet paper.
Pads: Consider investing in enough cloth pads to get you through 2-3 days of your cycle, this will give you enough time for washing and drying them without running out. Amazon has some really neat cloth pads available in a variety of sizes and patterns. They even have pads with wings. If buying isn’t possible, check out YouTube for some how to videos on making your own!!

Tampons: While I still recommend the cloth pads as a back up plan, if you really don’t care for pads there are internal options such as cloth tampons and menstrual cups.

Cleansing: In a long-term SHTF scenario, the wipes and washes will eventually run out but cleanliness will still be a top priority so I recommend a back up plan for this, too. Amazon is also home to many pre-made bundles of family cloth which can be used as toilet paper. You can also make your own or fill an empty container with some baby face cloths. Keep some extra soap for this purpose, baby soap is mild and does a good job.

In a Pinch: If you find yourself in a situation without disposable or pre-made products, you can use just about any soft absorbent material. Baby receiving blankets, thick face clothes, cut up towels or even an old sweater.

Storing/Washing: Reusable products will need to be washed and stored until washed. You can buy special cloth bags for storing your used products in until it’s time to wash them or you can use any kind of pail with a lid. Keep white vinegar on hand, fill the bucket half full of a water and a little vinegar to prevent stains from setting in and to cut down on odors. If buying pre-made, pay close attention to the hand washing instructions. If making them yourself, you can wash them in your machine (if it’s still working) or hand wash them in hot soapy water. Consider having a boiling pot if your products are white or highly soiled (you can boil them to kill germs). It may also be a good idea to stock up on bar wash soaps (sunlight makes a good one). They can be hung to dry.

Other Issues:

**Take into considerations all other related issues that may effect you.

There are lucky women out there who breeze through cycles without any issues and then there are women who will find themselves curled into a ball from the pain of cramping. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t run to the store for a package of pads then chances are you also can’t run to the store for some midol or chocolate. Be prepared. BONUS: All these items should be included in your prepping for other reasons so no money is being wasted.

Pain relief: Store a big bottle of your go-to pain reliever. If you are prepping for someone else, a big bottle of Tylenol (100 tablets) and a reusable hot water bag will do the trick. (Tylenol can be used for anyone not allergic and hot water bottles can double as a warmer under the covers at night)

Cravings: Try to keep a few of your favorite sweets on hand and replace them as you dip into them. Consider hot-chocolate, it can sooth a sweet craving and has a decent shelf life. It can also be used for some baking recipes.

Yeast Infections: Yeast infections are quite common in woman so keeping an extra tube of monistat could save some discomfort.

Pregnancy: You may be prepared for your period but what if it doesn’t come? If pregnancy is a possibility you can find a list of good supplies to have here.

Putting it all together:

**Now that you are aware of what you may need it is time to put it all together.

In The Bug Out Bag: Almost every woman will at some point be caught off guard by her monthly visitor. For some woman this will happen while on the move or “bugging out“. The best place to start is by preparing a mini PMS package. I recommend including enough supply to get through one cycle. It is as easy as throwing a pack of pads/tampons, a small pack of wipes, a bottle of Tylenol (or your choice of pain relief) and some hand sanitizer into a zip lock bag then putting it in your BOB or purse. It’s fast, it’s cheap and it’s easy!! If you don’t already have the supplies on hand, consider picking them up on your next grocery trip. If you don’t have a BOB congratulations, you’ve just made your first prep!!

In The Home: Stock pile a 6-12 month supply of your favorite products, don’t forget some cleansing wipes/wash with your stockpile. Also consider having pain relief and the possibility of cravings, yeast infections and pregnancy. You do not need to do this all at once, pick up an extra pack every time you are able.

Disposal: The next time you are at the dollar store, pick up a few boxes of sandwich bags. Have a look around the house for a bucket with lid. Don’t throw out those old rims, make a burning pit. That’s it, you are done!!

Backing it up: Consider purchasing some cloth pads or reusable products. In the meantime, visit the local consignment shop and pick up some baby receiving blankets for under $1.00. These can serve as back up pads and wipes until pre-made is in the budget. Keep some Vinegar and sunlight soap around for washing and you are all set!!

That’s it. You can do this!! Do not let mother nature catch you off guard. This is one of the easiest/cheapest ways you can start preparing yourself and your family as early as today!!

There are some things we can still count on to remain the same after SHTF. A woman’s time of the month being one of them. Even if you are not

I am always looking to learn skills that can improve many facets of my life. A chief aspect of prepping I believe is to continually learn and increase your ability to survive. This education can come in many forms from training courses, real-life exposure, videos, lectures and books. For me though I don’t learn from books as well as I do with hands on exposure to the core aspects I am trying to learn. The more complicated the subject, the less likely I am going to learn from a book and at a certain point no matter how compelling the subject matter, if the book is too detailed I usually don’t finish.

I am sure this challenge hampers me from mastering a lot of concepts, but I can’t help how I was born so I try to learn in different ways to prevent my learning-handicap from getting in the way of acquiring skills or knowledge that could be crucial someday. Sometimes I find a source that seems to be a perfect fit for my learning style and 100 Deadly Skills by Clint Emerson fits the bill nicely.

Clint Emerson is a retired Navy SEAL who spent twenty years conducting special ops all over the world while attached to SEAL Teams (including the elite SEAL Team SIX) and the National Security Agency (NSA). Clint was able to use an array of practical skills he developed to protect himself while at home and abroad, he created Violent Nomad—a personal, non-kinetic capture/kill program cataloging the skills necessary to defend against any predator or crisis and his recent book 100 Deadly Skills puts much of that knowledge he obtained and created into the hands of everyday people like you and me.

Going back to my learning style, 100 Deadly Skills isn’t a technical manual. It isn’t a college level white paper on the various subjects Clint is discussing although I firmly believe that any Navy Seal receives so much more education and instruction than could ever be contained in 20 books. I am no Navy Seal though and 100 Deadly Skills is set up to share concepts in a compelling way that while not replacing professional training, still give the average person tons of useful information that could help you if you are confronted with many survival situations.

100 Deadly Skills that you never knew you needed

100 Deadly Skills takes the standpoint of a “Violent Nomad” who is characterized in the book as an operator working overseas under heavy cover. The book proceeds to share tactics that an operator could use in all aspects of what I would assume someone in that line of work would need to plan for.

100 Deadly Skills - Great information for people who want to make sure they can survive any dangerous situation.
100 Deadly Skills – Great information for people who want to make sure they can survive any dangerous situation.
  • Mission Prep
  • Infiltration
  • Infrastructure Development
  • Surveillance
  • Access
  • Collection
  • Operational Actions
  • Sanitization
  • Exfiltration and Escape

Now you may be saying to yourself, “Why would I ever need to know what a Navy Seal operator working overseas in hostile environments would need to know?” and I admit that this book definitely has a target audience of people who find this type of skills or tactics fascinating. This book is not for Navy Seals or secret agents as I said before, it is for regular people and it easily shares information that even a regular Joe could use to protect their life.

Each skill or BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) as Clint calls them is no more than a page or two and comes with excellent quality illustrations showing the finer points of each of the 100 deadly skills he tries to teach you. I found almost the entire book to be extremely interesting and I came away with a lot of new ideas that I could catalog in the back of my noggin for use potentially. I know I am never going to be working clandestine in the Middle East, but I can easily see the benefit of these skills in a SHTF event. Even if the world as we know it doesn’t end, there is still crime; there are still bad people and bad situations that you might face. A little knowledge sure helps and if these topics interest you, I am sure you will enjoy Clint’s 100 Deadly Skills.


I am always looking to learn skills that can improve many facets of my life. A chief aspect of prepping I believe is to continually learn and increase your ability


Standing to the left of the door, with the gun close to his body, the author prepares to push open the door and quickly take a step back to his original position.


My lazy beagle Toby was loudly barking as I’d never heard him before.

Usually I would have waited a minute or two to see if I heard any footsteps, strange noises, or a window breaking, but I didn’t have time to spare. My mother, who had cancer, was bedridden on the couch on the main floor of our house and I needed to get to her before a potential intruder did.

I cleared the house as quickly and safely as I could, and my mother was fine. I never found out what Toby was barking at that night, but I have no doubt he scared away a burglar.

Having my mother restricted to the main floor of the house made it necessary to leave my bedroom that night and make sure she was okay. However, if it’s 3:00 a.m. and you hear a window break or you know someone is trying to enter your house, the last thing you want to do is leave your bedroom to go and confront the person. In the ideal world you would get your family together into your designated safe room (such as your master bedroom) and wait there until the police arrive.

Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world. Perhaps you’re like I was and you have a family member living on the first floor or even in the basement. If this is the case you have no choice but to leave your bedroom; therefore it’s necessary for you to know how to safely clear your house.

If you’ve ever seen the police clear a house, you know they always go in with a minimum of two people. But you and I likely won’t have the choice to grab someone else at 3:00 a.m. to come help us, so here’s how you properly clear a house by yourself, even though it’s a dangerous situation you want to try to avoid at all costs.


The author slightly leans to the left as he’s clearing a corner, so an intruder will hopefully see the gun first before the rest of his body.

First off, if you hear a noise in the middle of the night and you need to clear your house, you had better be able to take one or two steps from your bed and have access to your gun, which should be “cocked and locked.” In other words, the gun should have a round in the chamber so all you have to do is pull the trigger to shoot. Right next to your gun should be your flashlight.

Many houses have enough ambient light for you to maneuver around without the need to have the flashlight on all of the time, so just use it for target identification purposes so you don’t accidentally shoot the wrong person.

Once you’ve got your gun and light, it’s time to leave the bedroom. If you’ve got a traditional house, you’ll likely end up entering a hallway. Stay close to the wall on the one side of the hallway and avoid walking down the middle, so you minimize your outline and make yourself less of a target.

As you slowly move down the hallway you’ll probably come across a bedroom or bathroom door. What should you do? If you’ve got a family member living in the basement and time is important, and you’re pretty sure nobody made it upstairs, then just move on past the door. I know this isn’t tactically correct, but we’re talking about a real life scenario here. If you’ve got your daughter sleeping in the basement, then no parent is going to take the time to clear every upstairs bedroom when they hear an intruder on the first floor or proceeding down the basement stairs.


Try and expose as little of your body as possible. If the intruder happens to have a gun, you don’t want to be an easy target!

However, if you don’t have to rush downstairs, you’ll certainly want to check the room ahead. But before you attempt to open the door (or any door in your house for that matter) you need to pull the gun close to your body so the inside of your wrist is practically touching your rib cage. In other words, instead of having your arm fully extended, your elbow should be bent about 90 degrees. This position gives you more control over the firearm in case someone was to try and reach for it. Another reason you bring the gun in close is so that you don’t accidentally point the gun at your other hand while it’s opening the door.

Assuming the door you’ve approached is on your right, you’ll want to stand against the right side wall, with your gun close to your body, while reaching for the doorknob with your other hand. (Do not stand in the doorway. You should be reaching across while remaining against the wall.) If the door opens away from you then turn the doorknob and give the door a solid push and immediately take a step backward against the right side wall again. If the door opens towards you, pull the door swiftly towards you and again take a step backward.

Once you’ve opened the door it’s time to “slice the pie.” This is a method used to clear corners and doorway entrances where you clear each area in small slices. For instance, if you had just pushed your door open and stepped back you would be standing against the right side wall. Obviously, from this position you can’t see into the entire room and you certainly don’t want to take a step into the doorway and fully expose yourself.

So, you would begin to take small side-steps in a semi-circular motion. In other words, if you’re on the right side of the door, you’ll end up on the left side by going in a wide semi-circle around the doorway entrance. Each time you take a side-step, have your body slightly lean in the direction you’re headed so that if an intruder is in the room they will see the muzzle of your gun first and the rest of your body won’t be exposed.

Each time you take a step, give a brief pause so that you can scan as much of the room as possible and you can determine if that part of the room is clear. Once you end up on the left side of the door, you’ve done as much as you can to clear the room from the outside. Also, I realize slicing the pie may seem confusing, so please refer to the diagrams I created, which should make this process clearer.


If you approach a door from the right hand side, take small steps in a semi-circle, until you eventually end up on the left side. Once you’ve accomplished this and have scanned as much of the room as possible, it’s time to enter.

Don’t forget to have patience while clearing a corner. This is not a time to rush unless a family member is on a lower level and you must immediately reach them.

Now that it’s time to enter the room, you’ll want to quickly step through the doorway and move to the opposite corner. For instance, if you’re entering the doorway from the left side, move to the right corner and give a quick look over your shoulder to make sure nobody’s hiding in the left corner. Don’t forget to check all places an intruder could be hiding such as under a bed, in a closet, under a desk or under any other large object.

Once you’re satisfied the room is clear it’s time to continue moving through your house. The next obstacle you’ll run into is the stairs. But before you just stand at the top of the stairs and make yourself an easy target, you’ll want to slice the pie just as you did with the doorway so you can make sure nobody is waiting at the bottom of the stairs to attack you. Again, start on one side of the wall and take small steps in a semicircle so you can see a little bit more of the stairs each time.


Amanda Hanson demonstrates how the gun should be close to the body before attempting to open a door. This helps to prevent someone from grabbing the gun out of your hands. Notice, she also has her finger off the trigger.

Once you do a full scan of the stairs, make your way down, while at the same time scanning everything you can see. The stairs are a nightmare because you’ve likely got a room entrance at the bottom of the stairs to your left and then you’ve got a large hallway to your right with a number of openings too.

Since there is no way to see into the room on the left while going down the stairs, try and scan as much of the hallway to your right as possible. Once you get to the bottom, slice the pie for the room on your left while constantly glancing over your shoulder to see if anyone is approaching on your right. As you can see, it would be very easy to get ambushed while going down the stairs (which is just one of the many reasons police officers always go in teams of at least two while clearing a house).

You’ll clear the rest of your main floor just as you cleared your top floor when first leaving your bedroom. Every time you come to a corner or a door, you’ll want to slice the pie so you’ll hopefully see the bad guy before he sees you. If you have a basement, you’ll systematically clear it the same way too. Also, remember to have patience throughout this entire process. Each time you take a semi-circular step around a corner or doorway entrance, pause and scan the area from the floor to the ceiling.

Perhaps most importantly, since clearing a house is such a dangerous activity, you need


The author’s clearing tools of choice: Glock 19 9mm handgun and SureFire G2X Tactical light.

to practice it as often as you can. For example, last month I got back from a ten day vacation in Utah. I knew my house was secure and no alarms had gone off, however, when I got back to my house from the airport I didn’t just rush in and plop myself down on the couch.

Instead, I opened my front door and took a step back and sliced the pie. Next, I cleared my entire house to make sure it was empty. Not only is this good practice, but I had been gone for ten days, so there’s always a possibility someone could have been hiding in my house.

Another good activity is to practice clearing the house with your spouse or kids. Tell them to go hide somewhere and play a fun game of hide and seek. When you’re searching for them you’ll want to pay attention to see if they see you first or you see them first. Also, if you’re slicing the pie, have them point out the moment they see you or what body part they see first. This will help determine if you’re doing it correctly—the muzzle of the gun is the first thing they should see, not your legs. Obviously, if you do play this game, don’t go around with a real gun. Use your finger or use a plastic training gun instead.

Again, I can’t emphasize enough that clearing a house by yourself is the last thing you want to do. If you still don’t believe me, and you’re the macho type with a huge ego, then play the hide and seek game I mentioned above. After your spouse has surprised and “killed” you for the tenth time, you’ll fully realize that if possible, waiting in your safe room while the police clear the house is the much smarter option.


Standing to the left of the door, with the gun close to his body, the author prepares to push open the door and quickly take a step back to his

While in high school chemistry class you would have been called a geek or nerd if you ever truly believed that “I am going to use this one day,” while everyone else was saying “I am never going to use this in my future, so why must I learn it now?” I’m here to tell you today that I was that nerd that believed such things and further studied chemistry for another five years into college.

During my academic career my interests always sparked when I learned about chemicals that could be used for some medical treatment, or were able to create an exothermic reaction and generate enough heat to produce a combustion of sorts. One that was very particular to me was a chemical called Potassium Permanganate (KMnO4). Potassium permanganate was especially interesting because if mixed in the proper quantities it can be used as an aseptic treatment to prevent infection on wounds and injuries. To add to its unique properties if mixed with a locally bought form of glycerin it would create an exothermic reaction to cause a small flame to form.

Now that I have given you some background information I will tell you of my experience when chemistry class saved my life. During the fall semester of my junior year in college I joined a backpacking adventure group that was composed of individuals, whom all shared the passion to learn survival skills and backpacking techniques. Being a rookie in the world of prepping this group caught my interests. So as meetings began to start and we practiced various skills such as cooking over fires, knots, survival skills and techniques. As we continued expanding our knowledge we also planned our first outing into the back-country of New Mexico during the month of October.

We assembled our gear and packs and planned out our route with enough food to last our 30 mile trip into the wilderness. Along with the checklist of items that we were given that would be necessary for any camping trip; I thought it was necessary to pack my trauma kit, and some chemicals for a chemistry experiment. This experiment was to take place towards our highest elevation at 13,000 feet above sea level and to be as much for entertainment for the group as an experiment for me.

We trekked for two days up and further into the back-country until the only tracks we saw were our own and the native wildlife. As the group approached the summit the weather began to rapidly change and thunderclouds started to form. We had made a group decision that in order to get back into the tree line for cover, we needed to summit the peak and descend on the other side as quickly as possible, because the route back down on the ascending side if caught in a storm would become even more dangerous due to its steep and narrow trails than the route descending on the other side.

Moving with a purpose the group quickly summited the mountain while fighting the wind that was gusting approximately 60-80 miles an hour the entire time. As the group began the descend one of the female hikers tripped and tumbled down the steep rocky path and received a moderate laceration on her knee. Quickly I dumped my pack and my skills as a nurse took over. I quickly had another member pour approximately a teaspoon of potassium permanganate in a one liter water bottle and shake it until dissolved while I readied the bandages and wraps for her knee. I cleansed her cut with our prepared aseptic solution and bandaged and wrapped her knee so that she could continue down the best she could.

Shortly after our unfortunate event our luck continued to fail and heavy rainstorm began just before we reached the tree line. Quickly the group of six gathered firewood, and threw together a tarp lean-to for shelter. Wet and miserable some of us were experiencing early signs of hypothermia, and we all desperately wanted to feel some small amount of warmth. Several members tried various means to start-up a fire from lighters, storm-proof matches, to even burning their own cotton shirt to get a flame to arise and light our fire. However the wind was awe to powerful and would extinguish our flame before it could ever catch.

It was then I remembered my plans to do an experiment and rushed to my bag and removed the small baggie of potassium permanganate and small bottle of glycerin I picked up at the store. I paused before I began and looked back on my previous trials with this combination. I remembered back home in Texas at 3500 feet elevation it would take approximately 5 seconds to generate a flame, but at this elevation and wind I knew my chances would be limited. So then I figured I’d better go for broke and used my remaining supply of both ingredients. What seemed like an eternity ended up only being about a minute before the greatest sight of our lives appeared.

A huge, bright fire-ball arose from our stack of tinder and kindling, and the group simultaneously began tossing larger logs onto the fire for it to chew on before the wind would have a chance to counter its warm punch. Our fire was a great means for improving morale and keeping at bay the clutches of hypothermia. We were able to dry our wet clothes, cook a warm meal and drink some tea and hot chocolate under the tarp until the rains subsided. After the rain stopped and we were all dry and full we set up our tents and crawled into our sleeping bags for much-needed rest. Once we woke up that morning it was as if the rain had cleansed the mountain of any bad juju, and we finished our adventure safely and pleasantly back to the truck.

There were numerous lessons learned from my first trip into the back-country that I have since benefited from. Most importantly the one that I and the group agreed on was that if there hadn’t been a chemist in the group then we all undoubtedly would have had a much more difficult time fending off hypothermia than we did that night.

While in high school chemistry class you would have been called a geek or nerd if you ever truly believed that “I am going to use this one day,” while

You could encapsulate just about anything in the world of prepping under one simple word: planning. Preppers are planning for different scenarios where they must implement one or more plans for how to deal with various aspects of said scenario. We plan on how we will act, what prepping supplies we will need to acquire and we plan how to talk to family members and avoid neighbors.

Preppers plan for medical emergencies by selecting the right medical supplies, books and resources such as wilderness training to put us in a better position to render first aid to wounded family and friends. We plan for economic collapse by investing in precious metals, or diversifying our income by a second or even third job. Preppers plan to bug out and deal with violent confrontations from displaced and possibly hostile individuals or groups that will stop at nothing, including your life to survive themselves. Gardens, food, shelter, alternate power, FEMA, government abuses and on and on we have our plans. But are you planning to fail? Is what you are doing really a plan at all?

What is your prepping plan?

I have written a few articles on the subject of planning with respect to prepping because it seems to me like a logical step but I was reminded of this topic again while planning a backpacking trip with a small group of my daughter’s friends. We would be going into the woods in a remote location that I had been to before, but my “plan” focused on me really – the basics I knew I would need to take into consideration and I had not fully appreciated this group of kids that I hardly knew. I hadn’t expanded my scope of thinking outside of my own little bubble. Almost instinctively I was making lists in my head of what gear I would need and where it was stored. Mentally I calculated the weight I would be packing in and pictured myself walking through the woods with my faithful dog and a bunch of teenagers lagging somewhere on the trail behind me. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I certainly couldn’t “plan” on each of these kids knowing what they were getting into and what they would need.

I started writing out a list of the basics: Who, What, When, Where, and How. I left out the Why because I don’t need an excuse to go live in the woods for a few days, I have been waiting for almost a year for the opportunity! In my revised plan, I focused on what they would each need to have, the conditions of the voyage into the great unknown and many details the parents would likely need to know. Before long my plan was a two-page word doc that my daughter laughingly said “detailed enough, Dad?” It’s a simplistic example, but I started thinking about my prepping plans considering that exercise.

A list isn’t a plan

When I started prepping, the first thing I did resembling a plan was to write out a long list of the items I thought I needed to focus on in order to “be prepared”. I still have that list around here somewhere but I remember exactly the types of things I scribbled down back so many years ago. There were sections for Food, Water, Shelter, Security, Finances, Gardening and Medical. Each section had a list of items I knew from my research could help me and my family. It was a good start but just writing down these supplies I needed wasn’t really a plan. It was a shopping list.

My list helped me get started with the acquisition of food. I was able to focus on first a 30-day supply of food and that grew as I had other items checked off. My list was constantly being analyzed for priority. If I got an extra $100 to spend I would look at my list and see where I had the biggest hole in my preps and move in that direction. Some months I was able to cross items off my list and other months I wasn’t able to. It helped me but again this was not a plan.

Having a ton of supplies isn’t a plan

Eventually my supplies stared to add up and I was feeling more comfortable with the odds of my family being able to survive, I still didn’t have a plan other than to stay in my house and use the supplies we had been scraping together. I had a supply of ammo, weapons, rain barrels, our garden was started and the pantry was filled with canned beans, rice and corn. I had freeze-dried food under the beds and medical supplies stashed in bins at the bottom of closets but after all this, the only thing I could really say was that my plan was not to need to go to the store for a while. I could sit pretty while the world collapsed at least for some time.
It wasn’t too long after that I realized a few things:

  • No matter how much you stock up, it will run out eventually.
  • Your plan to stay on your piece of land might need to change against your wishes.
  • If the world goes to hell, your reality will likely change. Your health, responsibilities and abilities could all suffer in a long-term collapse.

Going back to my backpacking analogy, I started to reflect on all the other people whose lives could impact my prepping ideals. It is wise to take these other people into account when I made my plans. My neighbors, the people down the street, law enforcement, rescue services, the military, gangs, relatives, friends. A disaster will likely be a dynamic event that you will have to adjust to and make changes to your plans on a daily basis in some cases. A warehouse of supplies is nice, but what if you are forced to leave all those behind?

So, in some ways all the work we think of as being the bulk of Prepping – the accumulation of gear, guns, ammo and supplies only gets us maybe 15% of the way to this mythical point of preparedness. The rest is what we will do with those supplies we have accumulated, how will we use them with our families in various situations. How will we ensure the use is done in a manner consistent with how you envisioned them when you purchased the supplies. Do we need to ration and when? Who can access the supplies and how will you deal with resupply? Who will you share with and what are you prepared to do in situations where you don’t want to share? But that’s just the Stuff part of it. There is so much more!

Prepping is not simply distilled only to the acquisition of gear. You should not relax when you have a pantry full of food and some camping gear and a rifle or two. Granted, that will put you ahead of many people, but that is only a short-term gain. If you are searching for true preparedness, your plans must begin to imagine a life without many of those supplies you have stockpiled because in a true grid-down disaster, end of the world calamity that you are imagining there is a pretty good chance your MRE’s will be long gone, your ammo could be gone and any medical supplies you had might have vanished months ago.

For me, a true prepping plan is being able to live without any of the supplies I am stocking up. I am pointed in that direction now with efforts on self-reliant power, food production and living off the land as much as possible. Does that mean I am not stocking up anything and I am only going to be prepared to eat bark and roots? Nope, but I won’t be sitting in my suburban bunker eating my canned peaches watching DVD’s on my solar-powered player either as the world burns outside. The supplies will only buy me time. That time is going to need to be spent on many initiatives that will lend themselves to survival. Survival for my family and everyone I can bring along with me.

What’s your prepping plan?

I have written a few articles on the subject of planning with respect to prepping because it seems to me like a logical step but I was reminded of this

You may have a plan to evacuate during a house fire or even a plan to evacuate during an earthquake. But does a home defense plan exist in your home? The answer to that is probably no, right? Sure, the thought has crossed your mind, but you are probably among the few folks who don’t have a sure-fire plan in place.

Let alone know how to proceed if an intruder gets into your house while you’re there. Not knowing what to do should prompt you to take action to protect yourself and those that you love in the case of the unthinkable happening.



Have a Designated Safe Room

There are many actions you can take to further protect your loved ones and yourself prior to a home invasion occurring. The number one course of action to take is to have a safe room created. Your safe room does not need to be fancy either, it can be something as simple as a basement that has a re-enforced door. Regardless of your skill for creating a safe room, there are many ways that you can create at least a safer room if not the perfect safe room.

First – Install a sturdy main door in a metal frame. Then add a durable doorknob and a re-enforced deadbolt. With most inside doors being slim and light, and hollow they can get kicked in quite easily. You must make it problematic for the invader to reach you.


Second – If the area includes a window, replace the window with glass that is shatterproof; consider using shatterproof film for glass windows as a cost-effective alternative.

Third – Adding an extension to your security system is not a bad idea. These will enhance your current system. So if you don’t already have a panic alarm inside your safe room, get one installed. Having this feature will allow you to notify the police without having your main security alarm armed.

Fourth – Have a miniature camera installed so you can see beyond your door. This can also be an extension of your home alarm system or you can install it as an independent camera. If you do use it as an independent unit, make sure that you are able to view its live video via a smartphone or computer so you can identify law enforcement as they arrive.

Fifth – Place a weapon safe inside. If you own a weapon, then it is a good idea to have a weapon safe to go with it. This will ensure that your 12 gauge shotguns, handguns, and/or rifles will be safe and accessible by only you.

Response Time is Everything

It can seem difficult to respond properly to the sound of broken glass in the early morning hours. Your response time is crucial at that point.

If you are alone, your best bet is to remain where you are, put a defensive behind your bedroom door and contact law enforcement immediately. This would also be the perfect time to get your firearm ready just in case the burglar is determined to enter your room. Even if you don’t have a weapon, you can give a verbal warning that you are armed and fully trained in your weapons use. This warning should be given while you position yourself in an area that you can defend easily and where you will have a full view of your “kill zone.”

If you have children or other individuals that you are responsible for in your home, then the entire plan completely changes. Normally, you would feel discouraged from leaving your bedroom, but because you have loved ones now involved, you are more determined to go and rescue them from the potential danger. Again, stressing the fact that arming yourself can’t be stressed enough.

Close-Quarter Defense Training

If you own a gun and have received the necessary training, then experiencing a home invasion will definitely test your ability to safely defend your home. This will also put your close-quarter training to the test as you move throughout your house. You have to realize though that your close-quarter training will be nothing like what the police receive. The main difference is the goal. As a homeowner executing a home defense plan, your goal is to get you and your family to one designated area safely because your ability to search for your family safely will be non-existent.
If you are unsure of what you need to consider for your home invasion plan, here are 8 things to keep in mind:

One – Rehearse every movement you plan to make. Make sure your route is clear and non-visible. Consider things that might happen in the dark.

Two – Make sure you have a gun safe within reach at all times and near your bed.

Three – Have a reliable light source as you search. Even though many guns can have a flashlight attached, they are deemed as useless for conducting searches.

Four – Make sure that all family members are involved. To be more successful, it’s best to work in groups of two. But if your family is not big enough, then conducting your drill together is ideal.

Five – The age of your children will play a huge factor because of their level of understanding. But if they are old enough, they need to be included. If they are too young, you may want to refrain from sharing the details. What you can tell them though, is to hide in a prearranged area so that you can come for them in the case of danger.

Six – After you have your family together, have your next move set. This could be staying where you are and creating your defensive. If your safe room is near you then head that way quietly. Whatever you do though, it is considered unwise to return to the area where you originally started from. So the wisest thing you should do is safely and quietly exit your home.

Seven – Having a fully charged cell phone on your nightstand is an absolute must. You will be able to quickly call law enforcement.

Eight – Unless you are evacuating your family out of the home, you should never attempt to conduct a “sweep”. Not only is it dangerous but you never know what could be around the corner in your own home.

Unconventional Weapons To Use

You have to make your home defend-able at all costs because a determined intruder will not stop. That is why using unconventional weapons to stop their advances will come in handy. If you are one of many gun owners, then chances are you will be able to stop them if you confront them with your weapon. But, if you don’t own a gun, you may want to consider using any and all of these to defend your home:

  • A knife
  • A lamp
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Baseball bat
  • Hot liquids
  • Pepper spray
  • A taser gun

Whatever you do, never think that a home invasion will never happen to you. Times have changed drastically and safe neighborhoods have started to become targets. This isn’t meant to scare you, it is just the truth and you should remain vigilant if you do see yourself staring a burglar in the face after hearing your window breaking. Therefore, having a home defense plan in place is so important.

You may have a plan to evacuate during a house fire or even a plan to evacuate during an earthquake. But does a home defense plan exist in your home?