How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

Prepping For Beginners

Lately I’ve been considering the plight of people who are new to preparedness. How overwhelming this must be for them.

Even for those of us who have been prepping for years it can still be overwhelming and intimidating. I imagine that for people that are new the task ahead must look like Mount Everest.

Most people begin to plan for specific problems or vulnerabilities and go from there. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, and I believe that looking at specific scenarios is a key part of being prepared for whatever may come this way.

Rudy’s Note: It’s perfectly normal and common to start this way. Most of the time you start thinking about the scenario that first got you started on the preparedness path. It’s ok, and normal, and not wrong. Trust me!

But today I want to advocate an approach that is a bit different than that.  This approach is a bit less overwhelming and it is more practical than war-gaming individual disaster scenarios.

Ignore Specific Scenarios

The first thing you need to do is ignore specific scenarios. Yes, this means that I don’t want you thinking about EMP, tornadoes, pandemics, or even the zombie apocalypse.

The reason why I want you to do this is because any time you look at a specific scenario in depth, you end up focusing on specific details and you end up rat-holing and losing sight of the big picture. You end up spending a ton of time with no concrete results that you can actually do something about.

Rudy’s Note: In case the term isn’t something you’ve heard before, “rat-holing” is a term used to describe a conversation or process that has deviated from its original productive purpose into a generally unproductive but long and winding detour that eventually comes to a dead end.

The original discussion purpose may be to agree on a course of action. However, if one or more people rat-hole into a specific point of the discussion then the discussion stalls with no actionable outcome.

Figure Out What’s Important

The first thing I want you to do is to figure out what is important to your life. Most of the time the basics are clear: food, water, your health, shelter, and power.

Grab a sheet of paper and write it down. Think about what else is important to your life, and go into a bit more detail than I went into here.

Find Your Dependencies

Now for each of these things you’ve written down, figure out what you’re dependent upon for those needs. For example you’re probably dependent upon the power company for electricity, and you most likely get most of your food from the store.

Do this for each item you’ve written down, and now you should have a list of needs and what you are dependent upon for those needs.

Contingency Planning

Now it’s time to do the fun stuff. You need to put contingency plans in place for each of these dependencies. But not just anything. I want you to start small, and work your way up.

What you’re planning for is for the disruption in the normal availability of those dependencies. To use the electricity example again, this is you planning for a power outage.

Like I said, you want to start small here, and expand your contingency plans. Start planning for a three day disruption. Then a week. Then two weeks, a month, three months, and six months. Go all the way out to a year if you want.

Rudy’s Note: Once you hit two weeks, if you feel more comfortable with different time frames after that, go for it. I’m giving you a guideline, but it’s definitely not some sort of hard and fast rule.

Take as much time as you want. This doesn’t have to happen tonight, or tomorrow. Go at your own pace, and don’t feel like it’s a race. But don’t stall out. Make progress on a consistent basis.

Why This Works

This works because all any disaster is, when you get down to it, is a removal of your support structure and dependencies for a certain amount of time.  Whether it’s a power outage for a few hours or a job loss that lasts a few months.

By preparing for those dependencies to be unavailable, you’re actually preparing for just about any disaster scenario.  You can dig into specific scenarios once you’ve got the basics accounted for, but by and large just having your main dependencies covered will get you through just about anything.

As with anything in life, though, action is what gets things done. You have to actually work on your preparedness plans, not just put them together.  You have to take action to put those contingencies in place.  They won’t show up on their own.

Wrapping Up

Remember…preparedness planning is very personal, and it’s not about planning for the latest and greatest disaster. It’s about structuring your life in a way that you are not completely up a creek without a paddle if the power goes out or you can’t get to the store.

This will give you a sense of peace and confidence that you are able to take care of yourself and your family. When your dependencies give out for whatever reason, you’ll have a sense of security that comes from knowing that you’ll be ok, and you have time to figure out what comes next.

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4 Responses to Prepping For Beginners

  1. Something I found pretty helpful in showing me what I should focus on first is to skip one trip to the store. Granted you need a few basics in place already, most likely, but it showed me a lot of “little” things that I hadn’t thought about before we had to go without. Having to be creative and find substitutes and just do without… it was interesting and I learned what I needed to focus on and also found out a few things that we didn’t actually need as much as I thought.

  2. .

    Great article. Gets to the essence of being “American”. Confidence in the future because you’re prepared for Life’s challenges.


  3. While agree that getting into the weeds of specific scenarios will cause a lack of focus on the essentials, I do think that there are two basic plans you’ll need if things go to Fort Polk. One plan for staying where you are, and another for going somewhere else. Of course, there can be plenty of overlap. For instance, having a two-week supply of no-cooking foods in a foot locker that you can easily load into your vehicle if you need to leave home doesn’t somehow make that food unavailable if you need to stay put. OTOH, having that same two-week supply scattered through several kitchen cabinets would slow you down if you needed to roll out in a hurry.