There are as many reasons to become a prepper as there are preppers. Getting prepared for the future is no idle pastime, but there are varying degrees of the “thinking ahead” philosophy. Some people want to be ready for total social disaster and meltdown, while others are content to gear up for a hurricane, flood, earthquake or long-term power outage.
Whatever level of prepper you are, the following list should be a help. Even for those not planning on major challenges, reading through the entire inventory might spur a few thoughts about better ways to be ready for anything that comes along.
One of the key strategies that smart preppers employ is building up their supply cache slowly but steadily. Few can afford to buy everything all at once, so do what the professional preppers do: scan the list of essential supplies and decide which ones to get first. Every few weeks or so, as budgets permit, acquire more items until your basic needs are covered.
So, for those who are new to the practice of prepping (listed in no particular order), here are the XXX things you’ll need to get through the first couple weeks after a disaster:
A knife: The universal tool that doubles as a personal protection device.
Water purification methods: Boiling water for slightly more than a minute is a good way to purify if you don’t have filters to do the job. There are also some inexpensive purification tablets and unscented bleach products on the market to use as backup purification systems if you run out of bottled water and have to collect it from nature.
14 days’ worth of food: Avoid refrigerated items for obvious reasons. Try to make a short menu of what you could eat for two weeks based on simple items like apple sauce, crackers, canned foods, peanut butter and non-perishables.
A can opener: Yes, there are ways to open cans without openers, but always keep three good manual can openers in your emergency supply stash.
Emergency cash: Several hundred dollars in small bills and coins will save the day if ATMs are down. To avoid risk of fire and water damage, some people recommend keeping all money in quarters and dollar coins.
Wood-chopping axe: For camp-style cooking, have a good axe. Axes double as very good weapons too.
Water: Bottled water to last for two weeks is essential for so many reasons. Use various sizes of containers and make certain that all containers are reusable. Don’t make the mistake of packing too many single-use bottles, but a few for each person is okay. Five and one-gallon containers are the preferred sizes for emergencies.
Survival books and literature: Medical and survival reference books are worth their weight in gold during an emergency.
A bug-out kit/bag: In case you need to go to another location for a few days (as in an evacuation or temporary resettlement) pack a bug-out bag for each member of the family. Each one should include essential personal items to last three days.
A tent: In case of evacuation, you will need a tent and several sleeping bags. Shop for tents and bags based on family size.
Gasoline: Most gas pumps will be down or unavailable in many emergency situations. Be sure to have a few five-gallon tanks treated with Stabil so they are safer to store.
Batteries: Write down how many batteries and what sizes you need for all your devices. Try to purchase a set of rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries for each device. Standard batteries last longer but can’t be recharged. However, if you have a solar charger, you will never have to worry about running out of battery power, and can use the regular batteries in between recharges (Unfortunately, the sun doesn’t shine all day, every day!)
Candles: Buy “emergency” candles. They last a long time and put out more light than regular ones.
Flashlights: Have several different kinds of flashlights but opt for LED lights when possible. LEDs last longer and put out more light. Old-style flashlights use more battery power and just aren’t as efficient.
A crank radio: There are several on the market that also have built-in flashlights and smart-phone chargers. These items are ideal for just about any kind of emergency and are reasonably priced.
Weapons: This is a highly personal choice. Knives, tasers and guns are the most common options. For those who choose guns, it is essential to have a large cache of ammunition. Some people in rural areas keep a bow-and-arrow kit for hunting purposes as well as self defense.
Hand/body sanitizer: When bathing is not an option, inexpensive alcohol-based sanitizer, combined with a little water, can take the place of a shower or bath.
A solar charger: These devices range in price from very inexpensive to pricey, but are an excellent addition to an emergency supply kit. The ability to recharge batteries and phones is a must.
Security equipment: Motion sensors, window and door alarms and standard security items are vital in situation where robberies are likely to occur. Motion-activated spot lights are a good choice for deterring burglars.
First-aid kits: Have at least two, with a generous range of supplies.
Trash bags: Trash bags have many uses, but you’ll need them for their primary purpose if garbage collectors don’t show up during an emergency. They also make good rain coats and wraps in cold weather.
2-way Radios: Cell-phone towers are known to go down during emergencies, so a set of battery-operated 2-way radios can come in very handy if someone needs to go out for supplies.
Plastic sheeting/rolls: Indispensible for keeping out rain and unwanted sunlight if you are forced to live outdoors.
Nails and hammer: Pack several different sized hammers and a complete assortment of nails. Surveys have shown that when people are stranded during floods and hurricanes, these are among the most cherished supply items. A high-quality hammer and some nails can secure doors, windows, and perform hundreds of other duties.
A space heater: Look for a propane-fueled heater and make sure to store as much propane as you have room for, and based on the climate in your area.
Fire-starting methods: Ferro rods are a must, and if you don’t have them in your emergency equipment stash, you are missing out. They are reusable fire starters. It’s also smart to pack a few Bic-style lighters and at least 100 packs of matches.
A multitool: Look for an inexpensive multitool. These little things can do the work of a large tool kit and are a standard part of any prepper supply stash.
A camp stove and propane: A small camping stove that runs on propane is an essential item, as are many propane cylinders. Each one usually powers the stove for 3 hours, so be sure to stock up on fuel.
A little planning now will vastly increase your chances of surviving the unexpected. And even if nothing happens, at least you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you were ready for the bad times.
Disaster preparedness is a lifestyle. Wise prepping means never really being “finished” with acquiring needed supplies to survive long-term after a disaster.