Prepper 101: Your Survival Guide to Getting Started

If you are just getting started, or even if you are a seasoned prepper, we know making your way through all of the information online can sometimes be overwhelming. Even on this site, we have over ten years of articles archived; for that reason, we put together this resource guide to help you navigate the world of emergency preparedness and hopefully answer any questions that you may have along the way.

Where do you Start? What threats should you be preparing for?

Now that’s the million-dollar questions, isn’t it? The truth is, I have no idea. I can give you some ideas, and we will do that later in the article, but anyone who tells you they have all answers is a liar! The only one who can really answer that question is you.

Preparing is going to be different for everyone, we all have a unique set of problems and possible disasters that we may face that are going to depend on things like:

  • Your geographical location and the most likely threats you will face based on your local environment.
  • Personal threats like job security or financial problems.
  • Shit we just can’t predict! None of us can tell the future; the only thing we can really do is prepare for the most likely threats that we will face based on past disasters, research, and things that are unique to our experience.

The reality of prepping is that when you reach that metaphorical SHTF moment, there is a very high chance that the event will be either hyper-personal or extremely localized in nature. A job loss, a freak winter storm that shuts down your city, or even an event like Hurricane Katrina are all examples of localized or personal disasters. While they aren’t the Walking Dead, they are things that can feel like an end of the world event when you’re living through the situation firsthand.

To truly be prepared for anything, you are going to need to do a little work. That starts with figuring out what threats you are likely to face and then analyzing how those threats will affect you in the future. Only then can you really begin to come up with a unique emergency preparedness plan that will work for you, not some generic ten-point survival plan that some dipshit survival expert tried to sell you because he once spent the night in the woods.

Want to be a Prepper? Here is where you start…

Starting line

1. Survival Threat Assessment

When it comes to emergency preparedness, there is no such thing as a one size fits all solution. Before you jump into the world of preparedness, you need to know exactly what you’re preparing for. That starts by performing a threat assessment.

Grab a piece of paper and make a list of the most likely threats you will face based on:

  1. Historical data from past disasters that have affected your town, state, and region.
  2. Take a close look at local crime rates and statistics and take a look at what dangers you may face based on your geographical location.
  3. Your personal threats, such as economic problems, medical issues, local dangers, and people in your group who require extra attention.

2. Survival SWOT Analysis

Performing a SWOT Analysis is one of the most effective things you can do to determine how prepared you are. A SWOT Analysis is a simple, but effective method of understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses before they become a problem. Going through this exercise will also help you to identify Opportunities that you can exploit, and Threats that you might face during a SHTF situation.

3. It’s time to put your Survival Plans in Place

Based on the information that you’ve obtained from the previous exercises, you can now start to put together a personalized emergency preparedness plan. Here are four plans that everyone should have:

  • A Home Evacuation Plan: This is a very basic plan that details the steps you will take should you have to quickly evacuate your home during disasters like a fire, an earthquake or a home invasion.
  • A Bug Out Plan: Your bug out plan is just an extension of your evacuation plan. It should detail what you would need to do during a disaster that would cause you to have to leave not only your home but your neighborhood, city, and possibly even your state.
  • A Get Home Plan: This is especially important if you work away from home or travel a lot. But even a disaster striking during a trip to the local grocery store could cause problems if you don’t have a get home plan.
  • A Communication Plan: During a major disaster, you will probably experience problems with our communication infrastructure. You need to have a plan of action in place so you can immediately get ahold of those you love.

Preparedness Essentials: Five articles that will help ensure your survival

If you’ve never been to this site, we recommend reading these five articles. They contain just about anything you would ever want to know about emergency preparedness and survival, and they give you a good idea of the types of things you should be preparing for.

Prepping Drills: Your plans mean nothing without the proper training!

If you’ve made it this far, then you’re probably more prepared than 90% of the country; but the truth is your planning means nothing without the proper training. When it comes to real-world preparedness, your ability to survive during a disaster comes down to two things: Planning and Training.

Once your plans are in place, you need to figure out if those plans work. The only way to do that is to conduct periodic emergency safety drills.

Essential steps to performing a disaster drill.

  • Your emergency preparedness drills should be as realistic as possible: Try to simulate what would happen during an actual disaster. Shut off the power to your home, turn off your cell phones, and run through your plans as if you are actually in the middle of a real disaster.
  • Run through your evacuation plans and your evacuation routes: Make sure everyone in your group or family has a good understanding of what’s expected of them once disaster strikes. During your training, make sure everyone has the chance to do exactly what you outlined in your planning and make sure they can safely make it to any meetup points that you’ve identified.
  • Practice your communication plan. Go through your list, and make sure you can contact people without using your cell phone.

The purpose of these drills is to go through the steps that you laid out in your emergency planning phase and test those plans in a mock scenario. Here is some more information on training and preparedness drills.

The Ultimate in Preparedness: Going off the Grid

Offgrid Home in the Forest

Not everybody is going to be able to do this, but the endgame for many of us is having a well-stocked rural retreat away from the big city dangers that will become threat number one during a long-term disaster.

What it means to Live off the Grid

Everything you need to know about Off-grid Living. What it means, how to find land, how to power your home, how to make money and what you should expect.

Buying Rural Land: Safety Considerations When Purchasing Off-grid Property

Living off the grid often means living on a rural property, and living in rural areas presents a number of safety issues that you must be aware of before choosing a property.

Finding the Ultimate Bug Out Property or Survival Retreat

When it comes to buying a survival retreat or bug out location, location is the key. Check out the top considerations that you need to keep in mind when looking for the ultimate bug out location.

RV and Trailer Living: The Nomad Preppers way of Survival  

Articles on Off the Grid RV Living and Off-Road Travel Trailer Camping. Information for backcountry camping and profiles of people who have gone off the grid while out on the road.

Prepper Resourses

Guy holding a compass

Don’t ever listen to a single expert; there are no one-size fits all solutions to survival planning, so make sure you do your homework and come up with a plan that fits your unique situation. Here are some survival resources beyond this site.

Emergency Planning and Preparedness

  • Our list of Recommended Survival Websites: Some of the sites we visit and some of the sites our readers have recommended over the years.
  • Prepper Website: A daily curated list of survival related articles. A little bit of everything from around the prepper web.
  • Ready.Gov: I’m usually very reluctant to recommend any advice from the federal government, most of their experts are complete morons. That being said, some of us have family members who are reluctant to do anything unless the government tells them to do so. For that reason, this site might be a good way to at least get your clueless friends and family thinking about preparedness.

Survival and Preparedness Books

Threat Maps: U.S. Natural Disaster Maps

U.S. Hurricane Map 1851-2017
A detailed storm path map of all Hurricanes to hit the United states since 1851
U.S. Seismic Hazard Map

U.S. Seismic Hazard Map: Frequency of Damaging Earthquakes in the United State
NOAA Tornado Risk Map

Tactical Defense / Training / Firearms

Prepper Gear and Equipment

Urban Survival Gear

Newbies, and even some old timers, often obsess over their gear. Sometimes they put so much emphasis on their gear that it can actually become detrimental to their ability to survive. I love survival gear as much as the next guy, but I think our attention deficit disorder society has created a culture that is addicted to the quick and easy fix.

I see it time and time again, people who load up on survival gear and then live under the delusion that they are somehow prepared for everything. But that’s not how it works.

Your survival gear is only as good as your training.

If you lack the skills to survive, then all the fancy gear in the world isn’t going to be able to save your life. In fact, I would put my skills up against any piece of fancy gear, any day.

So when a newbie asks me what kind of gear to buy, I usually recommend a good survival book or point them over to one of the posts in this article.

It’s not that I don’t like survival gear, I have a lot of it, and I often make gear recommendations. But when someone is a brand new prepper, there is nothing more valuable than information, knowledge, and real world experience. Once you have a good grasp on what’s needed to survive, then you can start to choose what survival gear to buy.

If you are just getting started, then stick to the basics. Water, Food, Shelter and Protection.

The survival gear that you choose needs to be based on a number of factors.

  • Your location
  • your skill set
  • and even the most likely disasters that you’ll face all need to be taken into consideration when choosing a piece of gear.

In my opinion water, food, shelter and protection are the most important things that you can focus on. They are the fundamental building blocks to any good survival bag, and should be the foundation that the rest of your gear is built off of. If you can cover those four categories, then you are on your way to being set in the gear category.

Having the right gear can make life a whole lot easier, but eventually your gear is going to fail. Investing in your skill set is the only sure-fire way to ensure your long-term survival.

Okay, here are a couple of gear articles for those that love their gear: