As preppers, we know the general state of our friends and neighbor’s pantries- bare at the end of the month, if you don’t count the stray jars of salad dressing, half-bags of bowtie pasta, and the occasional can of baby corn they didn’t put into that stir-fry. “Getting extra” means planning on more chips when friends come over to watch the game.

I created this article as the one-chance, first- or last-ditch attempt to teach someone about the basics of prepping. For many of us, we stand alone in the prepping arena, and are desperate to share our knowledge with others without seeming nuts or outrageous. This article is my attempt to do so.
The news today is full of reports ranging from a basic weather report all the way to an obscure article shrieking about certain annihilation from nuclear blast. How does a busy person react to all the media we receive each day? You must filter it through your situation and determine the likelihood of such events effecting you and your family.
Do earthquakes occur frequently in your area, or are you more prone to blizzards that knock down the power lines? Do you live in an arid region likely to have drought, or do you live on the coast where hurricane season comes every year? Preparing your family to “weather” such normal situations begins with knowing what the threats are.
Then you need to consider the more economic or social scenarios that could affect your family. Are you in a racially diverse city where a certain verdict could lead to riots? Do you think the dollar is gaining strength, or are you concerned that our nation may experience hyperinflation or even collapse? Do you remember 9/11 and wonder if something similar -or worse- could happen again? Your responses to these questions will help you plan how to protect your family from such events.
Some preppers focus on techie gear- night vision goggles and such. Other preppers want to farm in seclusion. Some preppers rely on gunpower to feel secure. And most of us fall in the middle of the spectrum as money allows. Of course, you always have the more extreme zombie sites, 1800′s lifestyle sites, and the Mad Max/ TEOTWAWKI sites. Readers have to discern which style suits your family, your situation, your budget, and your outlook. I focus on scenarios that are high-likelihood and high-impact for my family.
The prepping principle we refer to when deciding how to prepare for a given situation is called the “rule of 3.” It reminds us that in extreme circumstances, we can only:
  1. go 3 minutes without air
  2. go 3 hours without shelter
  3. go 3 days without water
  4. go 3 weeks without food
Our preparations, be they for a dead car battery, or all the way up to a Katrina-style interruption of our lives, must reflect the rule of 3. How so?
1. AIR: we should have means to protect our nose and mouth, such as a N95 mask. You may think there is no need for this, like I did until recently, when I read reports of a train car spill of chlorine which caused an immediate evacuation of a residential neighborhood because of fumes.
2. SHELTER: this is usually covered by our homes, but to be fully prepared, you need to think of where you would go if you had to leave your home. Don’t become a refugee! (it does apply to you: think Superdome) Whose house will you go to if your home is flooded? If forest fires threaten your street? What if they have also been evacuated?
3. WATER: one of the most crucially important features yet easily overlooked in our “turn the faucet” lives. If you have ever had to turn the water off for a few hours for a home repair, or been camping where you must haul in your water, you know how much we take it for granted. The first step towards water preparations would be to refill any sturdy containers with tap water instead of throwing them out. Soda bottles and Gatorade bottles are good for this. When you get more serious about your family’s safety, do a search on your local Craigslist for the phrase “rainwater collection” or “barrels/ buckets.” For about $10 you can get a 15-gallon receptacle; for $30 a 55-gallon barrel; for $80 a 275-gallon reservoir. Put them in each closet, in the garage, or under the deck, depending on size, and you are well on your way. Remember, WHO, FEMA, and other disaster organizations recommend one gallon per person for food preparation and drinking water.
4. FOOD: Food is one preparation that you can do all the time. Pick up more canned goods when you go grocery shopping. Get a dehydrator and dry fruits and vegetables. One of the best places to build up a supply of staples is the Food Storage Store through the Mormon, or LDS, church. Their prices are extremely low and they have stores all over the country.
They sell staple foods such as pasta, rice, wheat, sugar, and beans in 25# bags. A prepping tangent related to food is food storage. It’s pretty simple; food stored for an unknown disaster must be stored properly. Food deteriorates when in contact with light, warmth, and/ or moisture. A barrier that isn’t broken by these food storage culprits is called Mylar- the same, but thicker, as the party balloons. Many preppers use white plastic buckets found for free at local bakeries or restaurants to protect and store the food.
Another important principle of prepping is having redundant systems. It means that if you only have one water bottle, and it gets shattered, then you have none. If you have 2, though, and one leaks, then you still have one. So, now you’ll understand when you see the phrase “One is none, two is one, three is two.” Here’s what redundancy means in the areas covered by the Rule of 3:
1. AIR: We discussed the simple protection of an N95 mask, and you can create a redundant system by having separated supplies of masks, or upgrading to a contaminant suit with sophisticated gas mask. They are actually not too expensive, and if you live near a nuclear facility or have a family member with a compromised immune system, they might be for you.
2. SHELTER: Generally your own home. Many preppers, especially those in cities, create a redundant system by have what is called a “bug-out plan” where they go to another location. It may be a like-minded friend, or your own rural property. Do you have, or know how to pitch a simple tent? Under all circumstances do not allow your family to become wandering refugees, or submit to the experience of being under government containment.
3. WATER: We discussed the first system of water storage above. To create a backup plan for this crucial resource, you need to look at local water sources and purchase a Berkey water filter. There are good plans online for making your own system using a Berkey, two 5-gallon buckets, and a spigot. A simple strong plastic tarp can be used during a rainstorm to collect water to refill your receptacles.
4. FOOD: To create redundant systems in food storage means to break up your properly stored foods around your house, property, and family. In addition, it means storing, planting, and harvesting non GMO seeds from your own garden. Learning to can what you grow is an excellent backup to grocery store canned food. Sprouting seeds is one way to grow your own, but you must have a huge amount stored to do it indefinitely. Having the means and knowledge to hunt, snare or raise your own meat is another way to duplicate a food source.
As you become more confident about why to prep, and it becomes second nature to make preparations, you will begin to branch out into other areas of preparation, which are beyond the scope of this article’s goal. To whet your appetite, they include:
  1. Security/ safety
  2. mindset/ emotional
  3. medical/ first aid
  4. silver/ barter /skills
I am a stay-at-home mama who just learned about prepping in February. I used to feel panicky when I read about inflation, food storage, and all the facets of preparing for any scenario. I thought that surely “THTF” was going to happen any day and my family and I would just be out of luck. Now I understand the necessity of working towards goals as each day allows, prioritizing, and not acting out of fear, but from a position of information.