Emergency Preparedness Checklist: Prepping for Beginners

Life is unpredictable. You assume routine living will repeat day after day, but that’s not realistic. The unexpected happens. Change occurs. Emergencies appear. And “normal” is suddenly gone. You need to prepare yourself and your family for whenever an inconvenient new “normal” confronts you.

Common Sense Prepper Rules:

  • You can’t predict what’s going to happen. Don’t get tunnel vision or caught up in whatever people are freaking out about on social media.
  • Data and reason should always win over opinion and impractical ideas.
  • Follow the 80-20 rule to focus on the right things and get the most value.
  • It’s impossible to be 100% prepared for 100% of scenarios.
  • For gear or skills to be useful they must be as simple, practical, and reliable as possible. That means good preps are always ready and double dipping is bad.
  • Prepping should not dominate your life or make it worse. Spend a reasonable amount of time, money, and energy.

The basic steps to prepping:

  • Build a solid personal finance and health foundation
  • Get your home ready for two weeks of self-reliance
  • Be able to leave your home with only a moment’s notice (“bug out bags”)
  • Prepare for emergencies that happen away from home (“get home bags” and everyday carry)
  • Learn core skills and practice with your gear

Home checklist summary:

  • Water: store 15 gallons of potable water per person (roughly 1 gallon per day) and have ways to treat dirty water via either a portable water filter or Berkey / Brita
  • Food: at least 23,000 calories per person (roughly 1,500 calories per day) of shelf-stable food that’s ready to eat or only needs boiling water to make
  • Fire: lighters, matches, and backup fire starters
  • Light: headlamps, flashlights, candles, lanterns
  • Heating and cooling: indoor-safe heaters, extra blankets, USB-powered fan
  • Shelter: a cheap tarp (anything you find at a local store) comes in handy for improvised shelter, plugging holes in the house, and clearing debris
  • Medical: list of 145 prioritized home medical supplies
  • Hygiene: wet wipes, hand sanitizer, camp soap
  • Communication: either a one-way NOAA radio or a two-way ham radio (if you know how to use it)
  • Power: spare batteries and rechargers (your bug out bag will have a solar charger, but you can also get a second one for home)
  • Tools: axe, shovel, work gloves, wrench for your gas lines, zip ties, duct tape, etc.
  • Self defense: depends on personal views, may include body armor, firearms, etc.
  • Cash: as much as you can reasonably afford to stash
  • Mental health: board games, favorite books, headphones, movies downloaded to a tablet, etc.
  • Documents: copy of deeds/titles, insurance policies, birth certificates, maps, pictures of family members, etc. in both physical and USB thumb drive forms
  • Local & emergency info: write down important contact numbers, know the location of the nearest hospitals, etc.

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