Preppers are “Ready for Anything”.  We don’t prepare for just one thing as some TV shows would have you believe. The Prepper philosophy dictates that you prepare for anything that might come your way.  As such, one of your first steps is an assessment of your situation.  What kind of things happen in your region?  If you live in Louisiana, you have a high chance of having (another) hurricane hit you.  If you’re in Maine, you have a very high chance of winter ice storms that knock power out.  If you live in California, you have a high chance of an earthquake.  This site can show you a lot about regional hazards while this site will show you charts of where it’s “safer” to live.
As mentioned earlier, water outages can create an unpleasant problem with the disposal of human waste. While a bucket with a trash bag can be used as an impromptu toilet, to keep the conditions sanitary, some form of waste treatment is a must. A cheap option is pouring a layer of clumping (bentonite-based) kitty litter over it after every use; other budget solutions include cement and lime. More expensive choices are gelling agents and RV waste digestants.
In shopping malls, on mass transit, and in other crowded settings, don't carry your most precious valuables in front or back pockets; a purse is also a clear no-no. Inner pockets of jackets, and breast- or knee-level pockets of pants and shirts, are much harder to muck with. Discreet, slim waist packs or under-the-garments neck wallets work even better. Emphasize to your friends that you are wearing such fashion accessories only ironically; who knows, maybe you will start a trend.
Now, a word of caution: beware of debt. Many of us are taught that owing money is normal, even desirable; indeed, for middle-class folks, some forms of indebtedness may be difficult to avoid. But unnecessarily accrued debt cuts into your bottom line in two insidious ways. First of all, monthly installment payments limit your flexibility in an emergency - so if your income shrinks, your savings will be depleted at a merciless and non-negotiable rate. Secondly, high-interest loans, such as credit cards, amount to giving out a good chunk of your income without earning anything useful in return. They are akin to voluntarily accepting a pay cut.
Always store your bulk foods in food storage containers. I have seen literally tons and tons of food thrown away because they were left in sacks, where they became highly susceptible to moisture, insects and rodents. If you are using plastic buckets make sure they are lined with a food grade plastic liner available from companies that carry packaging supplies. Never use trash can liners as these are treated with pesticides. Don’t stack them too high. In an earthquake they may topple, the lids pop open, or they may crack. A better container is the #10 tin can which most preparedness companies use when they package their foods.
Some preppers advocate "hardening" the perimeter of your home. The returns on this investment will vary; for example, high-security locks and reinforced doors may be worthwhile in high-rise apartment buildings, where the front door may be the only way in. For single-family homes, the burglars will probably not bother with the locks at all; forcing open a bathroom window takes much less work. Tall fences and locked backyard gates can help, although their benefits are limited in rural areas or in shady neighborhoods.
Who cares if you spent your entire life savings on survival supplies instead of taking vacations with your family or sending your kids to college? They got a real education when you took them into the woods every weekend to teach them how to set booby traps for when the zombie neighbors invade! They can pass on that knowledge to their children! See, it wasn’t a waste!

Of course, everybody has some non-perishable food around the house, but it's much better to create a dedicated stash: this way, you can count on the supplies always being at hand, and you can stockpile something more nutritious than stale crackers, a suspect bottle of olive oil, and a rusty can of tomato sauce. With a well thought-out stockpile of ready-made food, it's also a lot easier to hit the road.
Gale, you’re right about the bug eggs. I know it’s a little skeevy to think about but *nearly all* grain products (whole wheat berries, biscuit mix, pasta, cornmeal, anything) already have bug eggs in them. That’s what the dry ice is for; it helps stave off rancidity and it also prevents (ew) hatching! Or you can freeze the items for a week and then store long-term, but that’s a lot more trouble than it sounds like and doesn’t help prolong shelf life.
Great article! It is so helpful to read about the basics again and again. IMHO, the most important guiding point in the article is to prep what you will actually eat. This week my husband cooked DAK ham in a skillet with potatoes and melted cheese. It was just okay. I’m not crazy about the ham and am choosing not to prep it. Proteins have been the most difficult for me. So far, proteins I am SURE I will eat are all kinds of dried and canned beans, shelf-stable tofu (Mori-Nu), and Campbell’s Roadhouse Chili. This chili tastes a lot better than Hormel and tastes great over rice. The Mori-Nu tofu can be heated in a minute in the same pot with a pack or 2 of ramen noodles. I don’t use the seasining pouches b/c of MSG so I add a little soy sauce and dried ginger to the noodle-cooking water. Dehydrated scallions would be good addition but I have not tried dehydrated food yet. Although I do not like canned salmon or regular salmon pouches, I found pouches of grilled salmon and smoked salmon which I’m going to force myself to try this week.
Pense invites me to imagine a world turned lawless when the ninth transformer blows. Fifteen percent of the New Orleans Police Department deserted during Hurricane Katrina—imagine if the entire force lived where the levees broke. Big box stores killed off regional food distribution centers years ago; all we’ve got is what’s inside Walmart and Sam’s Club, and if you thought Black Friday was bad, imagine the crowds when it’s life or death. Drivers fleeing Springfield will hit roadblocks, where mobs will pull people from their vehicles like the LA rioters did to Reginald Denny. You might commit vehicular manslaughter, the preppers tell me, just to get out alive.

In theory, both of these systems looked simple and robust. But there was another, somethwat subversive force at play: in the 17th century, many European states have witnessed the emergence of fractional-reserve banks. These private ventures operated according to a simple scheme: they accepted people's money for safekeeping, promising to pay a premium on every deposit made. To meet these obligations and to make a profit, the banks then used the pooled deposits to make high-interest loans to other folks. The financiers figured out that under normal circumstances and when operating at a sufficient scale, they needed only a very modest reserve - well under 10% of all deposited money - to be able to service the usual volume and size of withdrawals requested by their customers. The rest could be loaned out.
For hardcore preppers convinced that they may be left with no access to food for a very long time, it would be also important to maintain a robust intake of protein; somewhere around 40-50 g per day is believed to be optimal, although you certainly don't need to observe it religiously. Ready-made protein-rich foods include some energy bars, most dry ration packets, some freeze-dried dinners, canned meat, and military MREs; smaller amounts can be found in some veggies, too. You can also stockpile protein powder - it's bland but relatively cheap ($1 per day). Freeze-dried scrambled eggs, powdered milk, and related products, including long shelf life canned or powdered cheeses and pancake mixes, work well, too. As mentioned earlier, protein and dietary fiber also have a well-established satiating effect, helping you maintain a balanced diet - which can otherwise be tricky when snacking on high-calorie foods. Oh: having some OTC multivitamins may be a good plan, especially to supplement vitamin C.
Shelter: You can make basic shelters with cordage and a tarp. Tarps are very useful in a range of situations. Try this Ozark Trail 8’x10’ camo and green tarp. We need to do more research before determining whether hammocks or tents are better for most people, so sign up for our email newsletter to stay updated if you’re interested in a more dedicated BOB shelter. In the meantime, we love these Kammock Roo hammocks that are about the size of a melon. (For a cordage recommendation, see “Tools,” below.)
A decent hemorrhage kit should probably include a generous amount of bandages, a tourniquet ($5-$15), clotting gauze ($40), and some duct tape. You should read the manuals and consult an up-to-date first-aid guide, but the basic idea is to apply lots of pressure to any profusely bleeding wounds. This can be done with bandages, clothing, duct tape, or even your elbow, knee, or hips. Clotting gauze or sponges, when pushed into the wound cavity, can help stop bleeding more quickly and stabilize the victim. Tourniquets used to be frowned upon in the past, but when dealing with major trauma to a limb, they sure beat bleeding out to death; it's just that they cause some tissue injury, and if kept on for too long, necrosis may set in and the limb may have to go.
Great list 🙂 The only thing I would suggest to add would be applied knowledge- for example there is no point in having seeds if you don’t know how to grow what you’ve got. Even if you don’t have access to land or a garden atm try growing crops in pots. Learn about the different soil and nutrient requirements for your selected plants, how to make fertlisers etc. If you are collecting tools know what to do with them, if you have info on foraging apply it now or go on foraging walks with local groups. Whatever skills you think… Read more »
In the early 20th century, the world kept witnessing just that; a series of bank runs and economic contractions forced the governments around the globe to act. At that stage, outlawing fractional-reserve banking was no longer politically or economically tenable; a simpler alternative was to let go of gold and move to fiat money - a currency implemented as an abstract social construct representing indebtedness, with no predefined connection to the physical realm. A new breed of economists saw the role of the government not in trying to peg the value of money to an inflexible commodity, but in manipulating its supply to smooth out economic hiccups or to stimulate growth. Depending on who you ask today, contemporary monetary policies - especially in the era of bank bailouts and debt-fueled GDP boosting - are either a brilliant way to stabilize free markets and promote wealth, or a reckless charade that papers over systemic problems and sets us up for serious trouble in the coming years.

I'm not quite crazy enough to say that epinephrine will help you survive the inevitable zombie apocalypse (you can go here for that). I'm just suggesting in a roundabout way that if you happened to be in a situation where something was trying to eat you, the increased heart rate and blood flow to your muscles brought on by a well-timed dose might just save your life.


There are quite a few pop culture myths surrounding the dangers of nuclear incidents, contributing to a defeatist attitude among even some of the most hardened preppers. But in reality, such events are a lot more survivable than portrayed in fiction - and perhaps more importantly, the world that awaits the survivors would not necessarily be all that bleak. A good way to explore this topic is a book titled "Nuclear War Survival Skills". It sounds goofy, but it's been written by the folks who worked on the Manhattan Project, and is as close to scientific truth as you can get; plus, it is not copyrighted and can be downloaded for free.
Mason jars are versatile glass jars that are widely available and commonly used for food storage. They have been used for over a century, so you know they are tried and true. You can store dry goods in mason jars or you use them for canning. To use them for dry storage, just load it up with the rice, beans, sugar, or whatever you are storing up to about ½ and inch from the top and then put in an oxygen absorber. Always use a new lid when you store food in a mason jar so you can get a good seal. Put the lid in hot water to soften the seal ring. Then pull it out and thoroughly dry it and screw it down tight on your jar. Using jars for canning is a whole process on it’s own. If you are interested to learn how to preserve food using canning, you should pick up the Complete Book of Home Preserving, the highest rated canning book on Amazon. You will want to store mason jars in a dark closet, since the jars are clear and do not block light. Use sturdy shelves when storing mason jars because the weight can add up very quickly. If you use wooden shelves, you can make your mason jar storage more secure by tacking a strip to the front of your shelves to create a lip. Even if you are not in an area that sees earthquakes often, it is best to be safe with your food storage. You don’t want to create an avalanche of mason jars on accident, and the lip can help prevent this. As another precaution to prevent broken mason jars everywhere, it is always better to build more shelves than to stack mason jars- don’t rely on those slippery glass bottoms!
When I first started prepping, I was making meals in jars, or called “just add water”. They are quick and convenient, but will use up water, fast! So now have home canned meats, fruits, veggies, soups, etc. These will compliment my jar meals because they already have liquid in them. Just use a little common sense and think food prep in everyday life, then think of ways to prep with little to nothing….prep conveniences.
A popular way of guarding against this kind of catastrophe is storing food at home. This is called Long Term Food Storage, Emergency Essentials, or Emergency Survival Foods and there are dozens of companies selling food specifically for this purpose. The best, including those listed below, have great tasting products with a long storage life at a reasonable cost. 
People who carefully and painstakingly prepare for mass extinction don't exactly seem like the type of people who plan great parties. At least, with those vast collections of guns, ammo, and other terrifying armaments, I certainly hope not. Then again, I suppose everyone will need a drink or 10 to get through the inevitable horrors of forever navigating the "what's for dinner" question without Seamless or, you know, realizing that your urban-dwelling family members will probably never arise from the blasted pit of rubble where their apartments once stood.
I don’t have high blood pressure, but am extremely salt sensitive. If I eat a Chinese meal (which I love!), I have to remember to take a couple of potassium tablets afterward, or I will puff up and look like I’ve been on a bender for the last two days! Swollen eyelids, fingers and even toes. Something not working well with my kidneys? Maybe. Hasn’t shown up in any blood work, and the potassium does the trick. So, we have to figure our own bodies out. Let’s be glad we all don’t have to fool around to do that! Good health is a blessing.

Flashlights. Unless you are living in a rural area, you don't need an eye-searing torch that chews through ten boxes of batteries in a day. Get two small, high-quality AA flashlights that give you at least 20 hours on low power; keep one near your bed, and another in your car or in an emergency stash. For a low-cost option, try Fenix E12 ($25). If you want 100+ hours of battery life and don't mind the price tag, check out Fenix LD22 ($55).
Cigarettes will also be hugely useful for starting fires and saving coals (as any fan of post-apocalyptic literature knows, this is of great importance). The filters can be used to clean water, although you'll need the patience of Stephen Baldwin to pull it off. If you do manage to live for longer than a few weeks without plumbing and Internet, you'll be able to protect your budding prepper garden by soaking cigarette butts in water and spraying the resulting chemical-laden tobacco juice on your produce. This is a technique already in use by people too impatient to wait for the apocalypse, though it is ironic and entertaining that they consider using cigarette-butt sludge a "natural" way to ward off pests.
At home, be very alert around deep fryers and pots of boiling water. Wear eye protection when working with drain cleaners, bleach, and other caustic substances. Learn about the overdose risks of paracetamol (ibuprofen is a much safer pick) and take a critical look at your prescription drugs. If you're ever doing DIY electrical work, learn how to do it properly, and get a non-contact voltage probe to double-check for live wires before you touch anything.
I’m sure I sound like a tin-foil hat wearing paranoid but … this isn’t some worst-case-scenario (return of an ice-age), this has occurred repeatedly over the millennia, is a ‘predictable’ event (possibly/probably) heading right our way. We’ve already seen the early effects but a ‘decades long’ cooling with massively disrupted agriculture and widespread droughts’ could be on the way (estimates vary from 5-15 years).
Canned meat, veggies, or fruit. Storage life in excess of 20 years (regardless of "best by" dates). Tasty, relatively cheap (~200-300 kcal per dollar), and the choice is pretty broad. Fruits, veggies, and soups are not very energy-dense (~200 kcal per pound), making them impractical for hiking or bugging out; on the flip side, the syrup may provide some additional hydration. Meats fare much better, tipping the scales at around 1,500 kcal per pound. Canned foods are a good option for longer-term planning, provided that you have enough shelf space.
Prepping is more about planning, knowledge, and skills than actually purchasing a lot of useless gadgets. I walked away from the consumer lifestyle many years ago and now live on an off-grid homestead. That said, there are always items that preparedness-minded people, like myself, keep their eyes open for. We are always looking for good deals on all things canning, such as jars, lids, pressure canners, and water bath canners. Or perhaps a higher-ticket item, such as a food dehydrator.
When Kafrina hit a few years ago, it was unbelievable to see the number of people who decided to ride out the storm instead of evacuating. As the “reliality” of the destruction of Katrina was sinking in on TV, what was so horrifying was watching all these “hundreds” of people without water! And nowhere to get it! They were completely cut off from civilization! As the next couple of days passed on, and still, no relief in sight, I watched in horror the actions do these people desperate for water! I wanted so badly to reach through my TV and hand them a bottle of water, but could not do that! I never felt so helpless in my entire life. And they were killing each over in an effort to get to water! With all the technology, with all the electricity, with all of our knowledge, we could not get a bottle of water to these people, and some died on the side of the road in desperation to get to water! I have never forgot how quick a people can destroy theirselves over they lack of water, and also for their lack of taking other precautions to keep themselves alive!
Two other publications I can recommend are "Where There is No Doctor" and "Where There is No Dentist" by the Hesperian Foundation ($17 a pop for a paperback, but also available online for free). They pay less attention to contemporary meds or nuanced emergency procedures, and spend more time on holistic, community-oriented care for practitioners in some of the most impoverished regions of the world. This probably makes the publications worthwhile for hardcore preppers who worry about widespread, long-term cataclysms.
Weather-appropriate clothing. A well-maintained stash of warm clothes, including waterproof ponchos and rain boots. In a pinch, you can also use metallized Mylar blankets ($0.80 a piece): tie them with some tape to make improvised rainproof, windproof, or thermally insulating clothing and hats, shoe liners, and more. The blankets cost very little and take up virtually no room, so I strongly suggest keeping some in your car. If you're stranded in an inhospitable place, they could save your life.
I’m sure I sound like a tin-foil hat wearing paranoid but … this isn’t some worst-case-scenario (return of an ice-age), this has occurred repeatedly over the millennia, is a ‘predictable’ event (possibly/probably) heading right our way. We’ve already seen the early effects but a ‘decades long’ cooling with massively disrupted agriculture and widespread droughts’ could be on the way (estimates vary from 5-15 years).
Check out our full review of the best emergency water storage containers and tips on how to store water. We recommend that you have the two weeks of water ready, sitting in containers. Don’t depend on finding and filtering water, or filling your bathtub, for this two-week period. It’s very likely you’ll have access to portable water filters and other water treatment methods because of your bug out bags, but think of those as a bonus backup.
Wow Gaye. I read all comments, and I see one from “Katzcradul”, so we know you have a very important web site. (I already knew this) I saw one reader loves cheese and crackers when times get rough. Katxcradul has taught me to “wax cheese” for long term storage, and many, many canning techniques. Everyone should subscribe to Katzcradul’s U-tube videos.
“The answer is you probably could,” she said. Though research suggests it might cause a mild depletion of vitamin C and other antioxidant chemicals, she explained, freeze-drying fruits and vegetables doesn’t have any significant impact on their nutritional value; packaged as stand-alone ingredients, they can even make for a healthy alternative to more caloric snack foods.
Typically, survival kits are designed to help you get through a situation in which help cannot be secured. However, if you equip yourself with a satellite phone you can contact help from anywhere on the planet. In other situations, a pre-paid cell phone or two-way radio (be sure to find out the frequency the local ranger station or emergency responders use) may be all that you need to contact help when you need it most.
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