Beginners Top 10 Checklist

Posted by Family Rations on

The most common question we get asked at Family Rations is "where do I begin".  Unfortunately the internet is full of contradictory and confusing answers about disaster preparedness – none of which are either right or wrong.  Every expert speaks from their own experience, background and location - none of which might be relevant to you.  The good news is that for the common middle-class, suburban American family, the first few steps commonly agreed upon among the preparedness community.

  1. Awakening.

      Awakening to the reality that you are not prepared.  This might sound like an easy first step, but consider how many Americans are not prepared in any way.  Just the fact you are thinking about it means you psychologically prepared to take action when the time comes.  Not going to spend any more time on this one, you get it.
  2. Food.

      One month food supply for every member of your family, period.  No matter the cause, the magnitude of disaster you are preparing for will involve food shortages.  Grocery stores carry only a few days of food, shelves will (and do) get striped clean almost immediately during an emergency.  In fact, the mere mention of threat caused the community of Salem, Oregon to clean its grocery store shelves in a matter of hours.  You don’t want to get caught up in this, you don’t want to be outside your house when people are panicked about food.  Ultimately you will want more than a 30 day food supply, but start here.
  3. Water.

      An obvious pick.  Shortly after any major emergency, drinkable water becomes difficult to find.  This is happening today in places like Syria and Yemen. Go to your local bigbox store and buy enough cases of water for your family to survive 1 month.  Any seasoned prepper would tell you a month of water is inadequate, but it is a good place to start.  Don’t make the mistake of filling containers so large you cannot carry them, a 55 gallon drum for example.  Standard 12oz to 32oz plastic bottles are ideal because they can quickly be thrown into a backpack or trunk of your car.

  4. Generator.

      As with food shortages, having your electricity cut off is highly likely in nearly all disaster scenarios.  Unfortunately today’s power grid is antiquated and subject to multiple points of failure.  Power company employees simply not showing up to work would result in an immediate shut down of our energy system.  Don’t buy a generator large enough to power your house, at least not yet, buy something capable of running just an appliance or two and charge some devices.  It needs to be small enough to carry by hand and quiet enough to not draw unwanted attention.  Honda makes a series of generators famous among the prepper community, the EU2200 for example.  Most people pick something up from Craigslist for half the retail price.  Don’t buy something that looks like it’s been used regularly on a jobsite, wait until you find something like-new perhaps out of a motorhome.
  5. Gasoline.

      You can all but guarantee gas pumps to run dry shortly after grocery store shelves are picked clean.  When the power goes out the pumps will cease to function anyway.  You need a small, portable gas supply for your generator, but that’s not enough.  If your local environment becomes unlivable, you’ll need a way out.  Without gas you’re not going anywhere.  Go to Home Depot and buy five 5-gallon gas cans.  Fill them.  This will get you 500 miles in a car making 20 miles per gallon.  It’s important to note you must also buy fuel stabilizer or your gasoline will go bad in as little as 30 days.  Bad gas gets thick and gummy, clogging an engine’s parts.  Don’t be frightened by the thought of storing 25 gallons of gas on your property, gas cans are built for this purpose.
  6. Shelter.

      If you’re lucky, you might be able to hunker down in your own home until civility returns to the outside world.  If not, you are likely to seek new shelter when your food and water supplies are exhausted.  Whether you hit the road for greener pastures, or check yourself into the local FEMA camp – you’ll need a place to sleep.  A simple camping tent is all you need.  Don’t overthink or overspend.
  7. Light.

      Another easy one.  If you don’t already have one, go buy a flashlight with a rechargeable battery.  Better yet, buy one for each member of your family.  You don’t need anything expensive, just enough light to walk around or read a map at night.  Eventually you’ll want multiple lights for different situations, but a standard flashlight is adequate for now.  Keep it small, ideally it would fit in your pocket.  If you haven't purchased a flashlight in the last few years, prepare to be surprised how much light they put off.
  8. Secure it.

      Nobody cares about the survival supplies packed in the corner of your garage, a box of freeze-dried fruit is the last item a burglar wants.  During an emergency, however, your life will literally be in danger having this on your property.  If discovered, you can assume not only will your entire survival supply be stolen, but they will come back for more.  A locked box looks like a Christmas present to a thief, you must hide your supplies somewhere nobody will look.  Easier said than done, just do your best.
  9. Have a plan.

      Decide ahead of time what to do if an emergency strikes while you’re at work.  Have a meeting location in the event you cannot return home.  What to grab if you have 5 minutes to evacuate your house.  Where will you go when your supplies run out in a month.  Come up with a plan and write it down.  Of course, the best laid plans go out the window during an actual emergency.  A disaster plan is more psychological than anything else, hopefully it keeps you from going into a panic during an emergency, and keep you from trying to make critical decisions under extreme stress.
  10. Shut up about it.

      This can’t be stressed enough.  The biggest threat to your emergency supplies are your friends and family knowing about it.  Anyone and everyone who knows about your emergency supplies will show up at your door hungry.  Don’t tell your friends.  Don’t tell your neighbors.  Don’t tell your kids or family.  You want to maintain control over your own supplies.  If you turn away your neighbor’s starving child and he knows you have food, he will return with a gun.  During an emergency, pretend you are scavenging for food, just like everyone else.  Do not, under any circumstances, let anyone know you have survival supplies.

During the process of acquiring the top 10 beginner checklist, you will have processed thoughts about your own individual situation and are likely to know exactly what’s needed next without input from an expert.  Nobody can tell you exactly how to prepare for the next disaster, do what your gut tells you.  Whether you stock up on heirloom seeds or ammo, you are right.


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