Prepping Basics: How to Start Prepping in 2021

The question is, what are you preparing for?

Whether you are new to prepping or are outright ready for the end of the world, there is nothing more important than having the basics of prepping mastered so that you can survive a job loss, car breakdowns, a financial downturn, or worse. In this post, we take a look at those prepping essentials so that you can start prepping to survive anything.

A lot of people ask me how to start prepping, and while it would be much easier to be able to summarize what they have to do in one single sentence, the best thing you can do, whether you are an experienced prepper or just starting, is to think ‘what am I preparing for?‘ From there you start the easy, and sometimes fun, the process of thinking like a prepper.

It’s okay if you can’t think of anything at the moment, a lot is going on in the world and it is much easier to just say you need to prepare. For me, I wasn’t sure what I was preparing for when I started and the more that I learned and prepared for, the longer my list of worst-case scenarios grew. What I can say is the more that I prepare and learn survivalist methods, the more I feel capable of staying healthy and happy should anything ever happen.

When it comes down to it, being prepared is a lot better than not being ready at all, right? It’s what we teach kids that sign up to scouts. The first thing kids pledge when are sworn into a scout group is to ‘be prepared’. If kids were encouraged to keep thinking like that through to their adult lives, they would no doubt be preppers, as being prepared is essentially the motto of any strong prepper and survivalist.

From the wise words of a man I met in the military: prior preparation prevents poor performance‘. These are also known as the five Ps. So with that, let’s dig a little bit deeper into what prepping is, whether you are already prepping, and how to start prepping in five steps.

What is prepping?

Since I started prepping a long time ago, I have arrived at a simple explanation for what prepping is. For me, prepping is common sense on steroids. That definition is what I have approached my survival scenarios with, from home security, family safety, food security, water storage, sustainable power, to things such as travel, finance, self-defense, and everything in between.

As a more expanded meaning, I feel as though prepping is to be prepared in the case that, one day, I might need a backup plan. It’s my own and my family’s insurance plan, made by me, ran by me, and not managed by anyone else.

You might be wondering why I included that last part ‘made by me, ran by me’. It is because being able to take care of and provide for yourself is one of the most important parts of prepping. I am accountable for my survival. Should the power go out, a disaster strikes or I will be caught during an economic downturn, I don’t want anyone being in charge of the things I need to stay alive except myself. That’s why skills such as gardening, sustainable practices, power generation, and water sourcing are crucial to preppers.

In looking at those ideas of what prepping is, you might already be thinking you might be a bit of a prepper without even realizing it.

What are Preppers?

So how can we define a prepper? I have been writing about preparedness for quite some time now, and have been referenced as a prepper in several media sources. But in the manner of easily explaining what preppers are, I have been thinking of the following acronym of eight words as an apt description:

  • Preparedness
  • Risk-assessing
  • Environment
  • Privacy
  • Planning
  • Enterprising
  • Responsibility
  • Survival

Sounds about right, doesn’t it? But these aren’t just some words tacked onto the letters that make up the word ‘PREPPERS’. In my writings, projects, and own preparedness projects, I have always been thinking about why I do things, not just because I am thinking of how to generate my power or my gas, but more so about the psychology of survival.

Are you already a prepper?

Prepping basics: how to start prepping

From what I have found, almost everyone is a prepper. If you are reading this and are thinking ‘I haven’t even started prepping, how can I be a prepper?’, think about these:

Do you:

  • Have a savings bank account?
  • Have a home or personal insurance?
  • Have a first-aid kit in your car?
  • Have backup files on your computer?
  • Ever check the fuel before going to work?

If you answered yes to any of those, you have prepared for the worst and are off to a great start as a prepper. Just take a moment to think about why you might have these things, this is how preppers think. Rather than thinking ‘I need a savings account’ most preppers will think ‘If I lose my job one day I won’t be able to buy food, so how can I make sure I can buy food?’ as an answer to their question, they start living more frugal, budget more, free themselves of debt and save money.

The same applies to have a hard copy of all of the files on your computer on a backup device. Most people think ‘I should keep my info safe just in case I need it one day’, whereas most preppers would think ‘how can I make sure I have all of my important documents saved if there ever was a virus on my computer, it got stolen or was destroyed in a fire or flood?’. This is why thinking about what you are preparing for is so important, because, in all honesty, you will probably already know the answer once you write down the problem.

So let’s look at how we can start prepping for life’s unexpected and unfortunate events, or those worst-case sh-t hits the fan scenarios that we like to call SHTF events.

What should you prepare for?

When people ask “what do you prepare for”, I really cannot provide any more of an answer than “anything”. This is the same for many preppers when they start, as news, weather, and at-home events happen around us we become constantly aware of new hazards, dangers, and circumstances that we could and should prepare for.

While it is nice to delve into the mechanics of how to prepare for anything, whether it be a natural disaster, grid failure, wilderness survival situation or a nuclear attack, sometimes we need to look at the basic blueprint of preparedness to remind ourselves of what we need to prepare for.

5 Levels of the Preparedness Pyramid

Taking a look at the preparedness pyramid is a good way for new preppers to work their way down the scale of what they should prepare for, starting with the essentials of prepping, and then looking at what can happen in life, in their local area, weather patterns, and other common occurrences, before moving on to preparing for a collapse and SHTF scenarios.

By no means am I suggesting to not prepare for a collapse environment? I believe that families should be ready for anything, whether it be a burst tire, an economic collapse or a nuclear attack. However, if someone has not covered the basics of keeping a first-aid kit in the car, or a flashlight and candles in the kitchen, or an emergency supply of water and food, then there’s no real way you can start prepping for worst-case scenarios.

So let’s take a look at the Preparedness Pyramid, to see where you should be focusing your attention.

prepper pyramid

Level One: Basic Prepping Prepare for lack of food supply

The biggest category, and rightly so, is basic prepping. Most people you know (if they have any type of common sense) will fall within this category. Even those people that know very little, or nothing at all, about prepping, might fall into this category. Why? Because at a base level, everyone prepares for the future in some manner or another. Whether it be having money in a savings account, doing the food shopping for the week rather than day-by-day, and having insurance on the home and contents.

Sure, none of this is real prepping, but it is the most common level of prepping done by people for that ‘just in case’ circumstance. You will find many of these ‘non-preppers’ will have a first aid kit in the car or the home, and hopefully flashlights and candles for when the power goes out. Unfortunately, there’s no stockpile of food for when supplies are shut off, and no means of generating power. But for most, this level of preparedness is enough to go about their daily life.

In this level of everyday preparedness, we can also look at the specific area we live and cater to this method of preparedness to the person. For instance, most people that live in cold snow-prone areas will have some way of dealing with the snow, and some method of getting the front and backyard ready for winter. In hot climates, these preppers may have a sunshade for the car and will most likely carry suncream in the car as a reminder to use it on sunny days to protect themselves from the sun.

For this category, I would put basic prepping down to just basic everyday common sense.

Level Two: Temporary Setbacks

Prepare for car breakdown

For me, when things go wrong in daily life, they always seem to happen in sets of three. This is when the car breaks down and the repairs are expensive, or you break your leg while playing a sport, so you’ve got to take some time off work. These are temporary setbacks that are unplanned in life and set you back in time, money, and health. Preparing for these types of events at least once each year can mean the difference between having health insurance that doesn’t pay out for your sport, or failing to get the right service to ensure your car does not overheat and destroy the engine.

In civil law, there is a clause that happens when many employees get a payout from their employment called the ‘sh-t happens’ clause. This clause includes those things in life, that seem to happen now and then, that set us back financially. It might be that you have dropped your phone in water and have no replacement insurance on it so you have to buy another one.

When it comes to temporary setbacks, most of the time the best method to prepare for them is simply to have an emergency fund. This allows you to have that sick time off work if your employer doesn’t have sick leave, or to use to fix the urgent problem that stops your car from working. These temporary setbacks do happen, and for most people, they can come on an annual basis, so having that extra little bit of help when you need it the most is also common sense.

Level Three: Weather, Recession, and Injuries

Prepare for job loss or recession

Almost all of us have experienced at least one of these, and while they are wide in their effect, only time heals the wounds that they leave behind. In level two, we saw the temporary setbacks that we might suffer each year, such as a car breakdown or a broken leg. Sure these things can be quite serious but their financial impact is low, and for most families, it is pretty easy to bounce back from a loss like this.

In the third level of the prepper pyramid, we have more widespread impacts, which include severe weather such as tornadoes, thunderstorms where homes may suffer lightning damage or damage from strong winds. Families may also feel the impact of a slight downturn or recession (not yet an economic collapse). This could also involve job loss or industry-specific downturns such as the construction industry decreasing over the next five years or automation of industries. I have also mentioned injury in this one, as that would include serious injuries such as a serious sickness or disability the requires family care or care for more than six months.

While there are methods to prepare for each one of these circumstances, similar to the second level’s preparation of financial safety nets, these types of events also require a greater deal of funds to help families pull themselves out of. However, in the circumstances we have mentioned, you will find that specific insurance levels would help greatly here, such as home and contents insurance, employment insurance or dividends, and specific health plans that don’t just cover you for the basics, but go greater in-depth in cases where you may need to be off work for more than a few months due to severe sickness or disability.

As you can see on the prepper pyramid, this level is still quite wide as these are things that all of us experience in life. However, you will find that many people do not have comprehensive and complete insurance plans for health, or if a storm happens. To be more prepared for this, it is a good idea to take a look at things that can happen in your geographical area, in your workplace industry and your health to make sure that if there are any slightly remote chances of that happening, that you are insured for it.

Level Four: Disaster & Collapse

What should you prepare for?

In this category, we start to look at survival and the necessities we might need to survive a 72 hour (or even a week) aftereffect of a natural disaster (flood, disastrous storm, earthquake) or how we can live and remain healthy during a global financial crisis. These things are much more widespread than any of the others, and I mentioned that survival is an important element in these because in these scenarios (which for many are worst-case scenarios) supply routes stop and basic provisions we need in life such as food, water, power and first-aid will cease either temporarily or for long periods.

The importance of natural disasters is to either ensure you can survive in a different area (where you might bug out and evacuate to) or whether you would be able to survive at home with your means of food, clean drinking water, and power.

When many people talk about preppers they often think we are planning for a doomsday (more likely the fifth level of preparedness). However, most preppers would say that they are practically preparing for levels 1, 2, 3, and this level, as they seem the most practical, with a worst-case scenario being a flood or huge natural disaster. Over the past few years, we have seen bad weather systems pick up, causing more natural disasters (especially flooding and destructive hurricanes) and have experienced them either ourselves, indirectly through friends, or indirectly through the price of certain goods (such as food and fuel).

I believe prepping has seen an increase in interest by many non-preppers since the end of 2017 because of these reasons alone. And I expect when more natural disasters occur, we will see more innovative ways for communities, families, and individuals, to ready themselves for unpredictable catastrophic weather events.

To prepare for this level of event takes a lot more work than just buying a medical kit and some flashlights and disasters and economic collapse environments need to be treated very differently. To prepare for a disaster, I have written a basic 5-step entry into the prepping world which will have you ready to survive for at least one week without having to rely on any systems for food or water. Most basic preppers have at least a 3-day or one-week supply of food, water, and daily essentials to use should they have to. Of course, there are other things that you might want to include to increase your comfort, whether they be a power generation method, cooking method, and other things. Another important thing, especially for natural disasters, is to have an evacuation plan, pre-packed supplies in a bug out bag, predestined places you can bug out to, and procedures in place with your family and friends should you not be able to contact them, or should anything happen along the way.

Preparing for an economic collapse is different, as it is not preparing for an event, but more so preparing to live a specific lifestyle with fewer outgoings, stronger budgeting, and frugal practices and a more self-sufficient lifestyle. I think, that while each has its nuances and difficulties, it is harder to prepare for economic collapse than it is a natural disaster. To prepare for an economic collapse, you need to be rigorous with your finances, which ensures having easy-to-liquidate assets, be debt-free, and have a good emergency fund. But it goes further than that, as you may also experience less food on the shelves, less reliable power and less reliable clean drinking water. Each one of those has various methods of how to prepare for them, however as a very basic to prepare for an economic collapse, you should have your food supply, which not only includes emergency food, but a way to replenish that with growing your food, either by a garden, or a greenhouse for colder climate areas.

For some of the real things you may encounter during an economic collapse, you might enjoy these entries from a prepper in Venezuela.

Level Five: When the SHTF

destroyed buildings

Some might call it doomsday prepping, I call it being ready for anything. The fifth level of the prepper pyramid involves being ready for the worst-case sh-t hits the fan (SHTF) scenarios. This could be anything from war, a nuclear attack, a chemical weapon, widespread disease, or an economic collapse that has resulted in a societal collapse, and that’s just to name a few.

In SHTF situations, not only do we need to know how to survive in the urban environment, but there are a lot of safety issues, as SHTF events are often associated with:

  • Possible roving gangs that evolve in a world Without Rule Or Law (WROL)
  • Using primitive survival methods at The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI)
  • Rebuilding society from the ground up in a post-collapse environment
  • High-security issues for preppers or anyone with a stockpile of food and water
  • To ‘bunker down’ from possible hazards from nuclear fallout, chemical weapon or disease
  • Having to find alternative methods to find food, water, fuel due to contamination or underground life.

It sounds like a movie or apocalyptic nightmare, but for quite a lot of preppers this is the reality and it is something we need to prepare for. If you don’t believe this is a necessity, check out my article on underground bunkers for sale and you will see that there is no shortage of people expecting a real SHTF situation.

So how do you prepare for when the SHTF to survive the end of the world? Easy, you do everything in the prepper pyramid. Why? First, because in this scenario, I and a lot of others have no prior experience. Sure, I have been through floods, lived in disastrous tropical cyclone areas, and have been in the military, but I have not lived in a world without order or law and not many have. But in saying that, the reason why I advise you to prepare for everything in the prepper pyramid is that you don’t know what is going to happen. If you are in a bunker, you need a food supply, water supply, daily goods, and a first aid kit. But you also need a sustainable food source because your neighborhood grocery store or corner store is not going to open anytime soon, and most likely the farms would have stopped producing food. So you need a sustainable supply of all of those essentials. You need a car that’s easy to fix, you need a currency in post-collapse trade items and a lot of ingenuity and innovation to make ends meet. That, and you need to think about security, medical risks such as dealing with nuclear fallout, remnants of a chemical attack, what happens when gangs attack.

If you are in an SHTF situation, you need to be prepared for everyday life as well as the uncertainties that come with being alive in a world where things operate differently, and everything you need to survive is provided by yourself and no-one else. There’s a lot to think about, which is why I recommend taking up every level of the prepper pyramid.

It’s not a quick backpack and 72-hour kit that will keep you safe when the SHTF, it’s knowing the right skills, survival methods, self-reliance, and an entire lifestyle change that will be the primary factor in yours and your family’s survival.

How to start prepping

In The Prepping Guide, we have a large base of readers and writers that are well and truly prepared for the end of the world. They are seasoned preppers, survivalists, homesteaders, and self-reliance experts. For all of us, every project and method of preparedness starts with that age-old question ‘what am I preparing for?’.

While there are so many events out there that you can prepare for, there are ‘kits’ in stores or online that claim to ‘prepare for them’. It might seem to be an attractive option to buy a natural disaster kit, that’s not the answer and definitely not something I would recommend. Instead, let’s take a look at what you need in your personal circumstances by looking at what you need to survive.

As a blueprint, the best place to start prepping is to make sure you:

  1. Build a food supply
  2. Store water (safely)
  3. Make sure you can cook the food you’ve stored
  4. Implement an off-grid waste system (rubbish and toilet waste)
  5. Pack a bug out bag with a bug out plan

These five things are very basics in prepping essentials. Of course, there are a lot of other things you can do such as develop an off-grid power source, a way to communicate, and personal safety methods, but for the most, these are the absolute basics you need to ensure you are still able to function in any situation.

So let’s go through those 5 simple steps to start prepping.

1. Build a food supply

canned goods

Getting started with building an emergency food stockpile is very straightforward, just think about how much food your family needs for two weeks and stock up on that. There are, however, a few things you might want to think of when considering the type of food you want to store.

First, you can not predict when you are going to need that food. This is why a lot of preppers are obsessed with foods with a long shelf-life because we can store those foods and when we need them, they are still good to eat. This means that a lot of fresh foods, foods that need refrigeration, and foods that expire quickly are not ideal foods to stock up on. Instead, find foods that have a long shelf life, and that last a long time. You also want to look into ways to increase the shelf life of your foods by using things such as storage preservatives, storage bags that limit moisture, and canning methods.

Second, a lot of preppers also diversify their stock with freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried food brands have been popular with the survivalist market as the foods have long shelf-lives and a year’s supply be packaged away quite easily and come with a diverse range of options. There are also food dehydrators which are a common item in prepper and homesteader households that allow you to make your dehydrated foods. There are pros and cons to choosing one over the other.

Third, when it comes to a food supply, most preppers will branch out into sustainable food generation methods as well as having an emergency supply of food. This means growing your food. We have seen in past economic downturns that growing your food has a huge impact on your food sources and is also a renewable food source for friends and neighbors, should there be a common food drought.

How much food should you store? It’s quite simple. As a start, try to stockpile two weeks (14 days) of food. To find out how much food exactly, find out your daily calorie consumption. This is done by taking your weight in pounds (lbs) and multiplying it by 15. You will then have your total daily calorie consumption. I need 2500 calories for someone of my height, weight, and age. I would further break this down as a normal daily food intake would consist of 45% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 25% fat. This works out to 281g of carbohydrates, 187g of protein, and 69g of fat.

To help you figure out how much food you would need for your measurements, here is a calculator for daily calorie intakes, and one to work out how much carbohydrate, protein, and fat you should consume per day. Most food products have their ingredients on the back of the label, broken down into carbs, protein, and fat. If you are growing your products, use a free smartphone app such as MyFitnessPal to find out the exact amount of nutrients in each vegetable, type of meat, fruit, and other foods you can make.

2. Store enough water (the right way)

Storing water, like food, is easy. First, you need to know how much water you need. The average person needs one gallon per day, that is including hygiene and washing use.

There are various containers to store water in, such as smaller kitchen-suitable options to much larger rain tank-size options. When it comes to storing water for a family of three for 14 days, you need to consider using various options as bottled water is going to take up a lot of space and will be a useless expense if there are more sustainable and beneficial options out there. In an emergency, you will need bottled water for if you have to evacuate an area entirely, this is why diversity in your preparations is crucial, as having all of your eggs (water) in one basket can be risky.

The two important things to remember when working out a water supply is to first, make sure you store water safely. This is because water is susceptible to mold and bacteria will grow in your stored water, so you need to ensure your water is sterile with either water purifying tablets or bleach. Here is a guide to storing water with different treatments. The second point is that, much like food, you should have a renewable source of water. More likely than anything, this will be the taps led from urban waterworks, however, if they fail, your water will not be purified. Water that is collected from any source should be filtered before it is consumed, and there are options to do that, both for personal water filters and kitchen benchtop family water filters.

3. Make sure you can cook the food you’ve stored

Off-grid cooking

I have spoken with preppers who have survived through an economic collapse and while I would consider them expert survivalists, they say their one downfall was not being able to run an effective kitchen off-the-grid. This means not having to rely on outside factors to cook food, boil water, and make delicious end-of-the-world dishes.

For an off-grid kitchen, you need to find various ways to ensure that you can perform the functions of a kitchen without having to rely on something you have not obtained, grown, or gather yourself. Simply put, if you have electric hotplates, you’re not going to be able to cook anything when the power goes out, if you rely on gas, you are not going to be able to cook for very long if you have run out of gas and the company has gone bust due to a financial downturn.

The ultimate solution to this is to make an outdoor kitchen, or just in the backyard, where you can build or purchase a woodfired oven or wood stove cooker. Innovations like this allow you to cook meat that you might have hunted, cook the chicken or quail you have farmed, and boil water you might have collected in rain tanks to purify it. If you don’t have the liberty of creating something sustainable to cook your food, store an extra gas tank that is made specifically for cooking food.

Another method is to consider generating your cooking gas. Having your biogas generator can have the benefit of being a way to generate gas and great fertilizer for your garden as it produces a great byproduct full of nutrients for plants.

4. Implement an off-grid waste system (rubbish and toilet waste)

When South Africa’s Cape Town was approaching an absolute dire water crisis, the city was shutting off the taps at certain times and placing fines on anyone that used too much water during the hours that pumps were working. It was during this time that there were a lot of issues with how to deal with human toilet waste.

Human waste in a natural disaster, such as some of the huge flooding issues we have seen in America, presents a big problem in homes, as toilets stop flushing due to water being shut off, and plastic bottles and ration packs can create more rubbish than you expect. You need to develop a system to deal with that otherwise any further prepping will be pointless. Most underground bunker designers and architects say this is one of the biggest issues that they face, as a week’s worth of human waste, let alone a month or a year, is already a huge task.

There are several systems you can have in place to deal with waste. The first is to address the smelly task of human waste. If the water was shut off in your home, how would you use the toilet? For Cape Town, many residents used some of their stockpiled water supply to flush one the ‘number two’ contents, running with the slogan ‘if it’s brown, flush it down’.

Also, don’t forget, there is nothing like nice, clean, soft toilet paper. Stock up on it.

5. Have bug out plans and a bug out bag

how to be a prepper

No, it’s not a type of fly spray. Bug out is a term originating from the military where soldiers would pack only their necessary contents (gun, ammo, water, and a small amount of food) when a position was about to be overrun and move to a designated area in a rush. The same applies to the survivalist bug out, except there’s no enemy (hopefully) about to take your home.

Bugging out is when an evacuation of an area happens, or when you know something is about to go wrong, whether it be a flood warning, tornado warning, wildfire, public riots, or you live in a conflict area and you know you have to get out as quickly as possible.

There are two important parts of bugging out when you start prepping, and that is, having a bug out plan and having a bug out bag. In an emergency, if you were isolated in your home due to flooding or storms, ideally you would be able to survive out of the contents of your bug out bag for three days (average). This means that you would have those survival necessities such as a small amount of food, enough water, first-aid kit, a sleeping bag, toilet paper, and some other survival essentials. Of course, carrying all of this, especially if roads are blocked and the only way to get to your destination is by foot, means you need a suitable bug out bag.

Bug out plans are important in any case as they identify a set of go-to actions for yourself and your loved ones, this might mean a certain location should you have to leave home, such as a friend’s place or a family in another area. And it would involve various routes to get there. More of these plans are in our bug out plan post. The purpose of having a pre-prepared bug out bag is so that should something happen, you can pick it up and leave straight away, without having to run around the house picking up various goods and items.

How to prepare for when the sh-t hits the fan

How to prepare for when the sh-t hits the fan

So you have those five prepping basics I mentioned down pat? You’ve got your food ready, your water bottled, your wood stove roaring, an off-grid toilet, and your bug out plans are sorted. But what on earth is this SHTF (sh-t hits the fan) prepping about?

I am no fortune teller, and I definitely don’t profess to believe the end of the world is coming any time soon, but hey, if you are ready for it and something smaller happens then at least you have all of your bases covered right? When it comes to people thinking of end-of-world scenarios, the first thing that comes to mind for most is either an economic collapse, or a nuclear fallout, post-apocalyptic mayhem, and societal collapse. It’s at this point where I would be happy to be bunkered down in one of those luxury bunkers.

Of course, that is an extreme worst-case scenario, and I don’t think I am not alone if I say I don’t want that to happen.

Government departments, emergency services, military, community agencies, and companies have contingency plans for if these worst-case-scenario events occur, and so should you. Their plans focus on mitigating losses. Your plans are ensuring the survival of your family and friends and loved ones.

For preppers and survivalists, this is the main concern. This is where the idea of post-apocalyptic survival comes from and is the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI). Oddly enough, prepping for this type of event is already happening. There are already companies offering plush underground bunker apartments where financially fortunate families can hunker down in nuclear fallout bunkers with enough weapons and ammunition to wage a small war when the SHTF. If this is the insurance plan you want to ensure your survival then it is certainly available right now.

If you are thinking that a nuclear war is the only bad thing that can happen in this world, you are wrong. Here is a brief list of SHTF events that can also happen.

  • Artificial Intelligence: we all know about this one. The biggest and most concerning issue here is automation.
  • Financial Collapse: we’ve had this before, riots, looters, resources, and power go. Happening in Venezuela.
  • Biotechnology: viruses, biological warfare, bioterrorism
  • Cyber-attack: destruction of power grids, Internet of Things, stock market collapse
  • Global Warming: loss of biodiversity, stresses to food-production, starvation. Change to water supplies.
  • Warfare: biochemical weapons
  • Overpopulation: food and resource shortages
  • Global pandemic: wild pathogens and spread of disease or infections.
  • Ecosystem viruses: naturally occurring organisms to affect global food security
  • Natural disasters or out-of-space events such as impacts.

I would say that if one of these has happened, the SHTF. This would be a social breakdown where fundamental things in life collapse, resources run dry and public stress takes over. Food stores have run empty before, especially when warnings of serious weather events come into play. We have seen resources grow more expensive during recessions and generally, this is when the looters and scavengers come out to do their dirty work.

When you effectively start prepping well for circumstances like this, you will have enough food to survive the event, whether it be for three months or longer, clean drinking water, or a method to provide it, a form of self-defense if necessary and a place to remain hidden.

For some, the plan is a luxurious family house in an underpopulated part of the world, an underground fallout bunker, or a well-thought-out backpack with bug out supplies. Whatever it may be, if the sh-t does hit the fan, you and your loved ones are safe.

No prepper ever wishes for a worst-case event to occur. But if it happens, they’re ready to survive. What could be more important than that?

But what if you don’t have any supplies and haven’t prepared, what is the worst that will happen?

If you don’t start prepping, how else would you eat?

People that don't prepare

If you don’t prepare that’s okay, that’s your individual choice. But there are several historically convincing arguments, form the Great Depression, to natural disasters, and wartorn areas. In all of those scenarios, there have been people with food and water and people without food and water. Even more recently in Venezuela, the situation escalated to the point where either people were dying of hunger or looting the communities that grew their food.

Let’s face it when the push comes to shove you are accountable for your survival, no matter what happens. This might sound like a law of the wilderness and it is, as civil services have provided us with the comfort of emergency rescue services and other departments to help us out. But for the most, why not take care of yourself rather than being a burden on them?

When it comes to your survival, there is a magical Survival Rule of 3 that stipulates that you will on live for:

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food

After that, most people will look for Wi-Fi to find out what else they need. In an event where you are surviving the extremes, you probably won’t have an internet connection. There is also a difference to note between prepping and survival when it comes to these three necessities. In prepping basics, food is generally something you would either store, such as long-lasting food stocks or grow, such as organic farming and even indoor botanic productions. A survivalist approach would look at a more on-foot in-the-wild scenario where you have to hunt, gather, and loot for food. The same applies to water and shelter.

Any practical prepper will build up a knowledge of survival skills as well as prepping skills as there is always an element of survival in any good prepping plan. The challenge of prepping is being prepared for a broad range of things to happen. If you were only to prepare yourself to defend a family home and fight off possible invaders, what if the worst-case scenario of an economic collapse hit next year? You cannot fight and survive a financial collapse with guns and ammunition.

While there is a basic preparedness plan for the broad range of things that could happen, there is one thing that many preppers have in the back of their mind that they prepare for, and no, it’s not a zombie apocalypse like what the movies would like to think. It’s an economic collapse.

Prepping for an economic collapse?

How to start prepping for an economic collapse

If you ask a lot of preppers what it is they are prepping for, the majority will answer an economic collapse. Why? It has happened before and it will happen again. Some countries were once proud and financially strong nations that have since been crippled due to inflation, a debt-ridden economy, and a loss of all social order.

When a financial collapse happens, food runs in short supply, waterworks are not maintained, the power goes out, crime rates go up and medicine supplies are non-existent. This is what a post-collapse environment looks like and it’s not nice to think about. For many realistic preppers though, this is the worst-case scenario and a possible fear for many.

And if you think financial prepping sounds like a conspiracy term, you’re wrong. Some of the world’s most powerful tech CEOs are financial preppers. There is a rise in silicon valley investors and millionaires carrying their bug-out plans for a world recession. The steps many CEOs, investors, and entrepreneurs have taken involve bug out family homes in underpopulated countries, distribution of finances for safety, and enough prepping essential supplies for their family to live happily for at least twelve months. In a global recession, a bug-out hideaway would be a priceless asset. Not only is it an escape from any social chaos that may occur in built-up areas, but it also allows yours and your family’s life to continue through that event.

Remember how I mentioned in the start that when you start prepping, also consider the sustainability of your food supply? A financial collapse does not just last two weeks or even a year, it can last for several years, in which you would have surely run out of stockpiled food by then. Because of the longevity of this type of SHTF event, homesteading practices have a strong foundation in prepper and survivalist skills as they provide the skills to grow and farm your food.

When it comes to prepping for a financial collapse, no stockpile will help in the long-run as it is a long-term game of survival. Instead, to prepare for an economic collapse you should be learning urban farming and gardening skills, homesteading practices, sustainable power methods and have a community of others to work with.

In the end, don’t stress, just be prepared and enjoy

At the end of this, you are no doubt very eager to find out more about how to start prepping and survivalist skills. If you are, keep the plan that we mentioned of the 5 things you need to start prepping and work your way off on each of those that I mentioned.

Here they are again:

  1. Build a food supply
  2. Store water (safely)
  3. Make sure you can cook the food you’ve stored
  4. Implement an off-grid waste system (rubbish and toilet waste)
  5. Pack a bug out bag with a bug out plan

If you are working on your way to completing this prepper list then great, that’s the perfect way to start prepping. Once you have more of an idea as to what you are preparing for, and you have organized yourself a sufficient food and water supply, you can use this list again to expand on your preparations and follow some of the other suggestions I made such as picking up some gardening skills, or looking at renewable sources of water and off-grid cooking methods.

If you have read all of this thinking this is too hard, look at it from the aspect of that 10-year-old child living by the scout’s motto “be prepared”. They learn the prepping basics they need to survive and so can you.

So now the question is not whether you want to be a prepper, but how prepared you will be?

What is prepping?
What is prepping?
SHTF prepping
How to prepare for everything
How to start prepping

5 thoughts on “Prepping Basics: How to Start Prepping in 2021”

  1. I got my partner to read this and your section on ‘Are you already a prepper?’ had her converted. She’s a sticker for all of those things!

  2. Hey Ben, I just wanted to say thanks for writing something so well put together and easy to follow. I started with this guide a few months ago as I am an Australian prepper and it’s not very common here for people to talk about prepping, let alone to even know what it is. So cheers!


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