In today's society of convenience, it becomes very easy to let one's guard down. Unfortunately, in many situations, this can mean the difference between life and death. We're all familiar with people who wait till the very last second to prepare for anything, whether out of procrastination or simple denial. But with the way store shelves empty out just before an impending natural disaster, you can't afford to put things off too long. It's better to be proactive, and more and more people are turning to prepping as a lifestyle to ensure their survival in an uncertain future.
What is Prepping and what is Survivalism?
The terms "prepping" and "prepper" are frequently interchanged with the terms "survivalism" and "survivalist." While they do overlap, and definitions vary, they carry slightly different meanings. Survivalists in general concentrate on gaining skills needed to live in an off-grid situation with very few resources, usually alone. Preppers generally focus on stockpiling supplies and are more likely to organize in communities. However, these are very loose generalizations and are not always agreed upon, and should not be considered strict definitions— and as mentioned, there is significant overlap; most preppers also seek survival skills, and most survivalists make excellent preppers. Ultimately it is up to an individual to decide what they call themselves, and you can definitely be both.
Either way, both philosophies have a lot in common: most centrally, the mission to be able to survive and thrive regardless of circumstances with as little disruption to their routine as possible. Whatever your personal goal for survival, this article will help you get started; however keep in mind that this is a brief overview and in order to be truly prepared you will need to move on to more comprehensive resources.
Before you begin, there are some things you need to evaluate about your situation and your goals for your prepared lifestyle. First of all, have a general idea of the time frame you want to prep for. Some preppers get ready for long-term survival of ongoing scenarios such as the potential collapse of society. Others aim for preparedness for short-term catastrophes like natural disasters, which while not permanent, can damage a community for a significant period of time, necessitating people to live off the grid for months. At the very least, you should prep for 72 hours without power or running water. It's up to you how thoroughly to expand after that.
Staying in Touch
Regardless of how long you prep for, you need a means to communicate with others. Survival doesn't necessarily mean disappearing alone into the wilderness never to be heard from again, and prepping doesn't have to assume the entire world is going to fall apart. For one thing, satellites are mostly immune from natural disasters, as they're far overhead in orbit out of range of all but the most extreme of dangers. Even if the rest of the grid does fail, the odds are very good that the global satellite network will still be functional. It is possible that terrestrial disasters could disable a satellite ground station, but these facilities are far enough apart that only the most severe destructive event— such as a global war— would make enough of an impact to render a satellite network useless. In the majority of scenarios, satellite communications such as GPS tracking and satellite phones will remain online. No matter the time frame you prep for, it's vital to have a satellite phone. The ability to keep in contact will not only help keep you safe but give you an advantage.
Evaluate Your Environment
Consider where you live and the characteristics of the terrain and weather. These details are relevant not only because different areas are more prone to different types of natural disasters, but also because your location will affect your choice of structures and tools. If you've recently moved to the area, make a point of learning as much as you can about your surroundings, because lifelong habits picked up in other regions may indeed be useless where you are now. For example, nearly every farm in the Midwest has a storm cellar for safety during tornadoes. But in the Southern states, even basements are rare, because factors like loose soil or high water tables make building them unfeasible. It is technically possible to create an underground shelter in such an environment, but only at significant expense. This is only one example of terrain-based restrictions; make sure you're fully aware of such limitations so you don’t waste time and resources.
Evaluate Your Budget
This one is self-explanatory. How much money can you spend every week on your preparations? First be aware that you don't need to buy everything new, and you likely already have possessions that will be vital in a crisis. You may think immediately of weapons, but remember mundane things like blankets, pots and pans, empty containers with lids, tools, knives, and other utility items will be very handy. With a satellite WiFi hotspot, you can even continue to use your cell phone for Internet access, provided the Internet is still up and you have a way to charge your phone.
Now that you've assessed your environment and budget, it's time to begin prepping to ensure your survival.
Water collection and filtration
Dehydration is a very quick killer, so you need to have plenty of water. You should store enough clean drinking water that every person in your household has access to a gallon a day for as long as possible. For a long-term solution, you need a replenishable water source such as rainwater collection or a nearby stream. You will also need to purify and filter the water you collect so as to prevent infection by parasites and microorganisms. Even if the water looks clean, don't neglect this step— most major human diseases, such as Dysentery and Cholera, are water-borne. You can find portable water filters for sale in outdoor supply stores and online.
Forget about anything frozen, refrigerated or microwaveable— you need non-perishables. Canned food is great, but remember cans aren't invulnerable and should still be kept in a cool, dry, dark place. Be sure to include a hand-operated can opener among your utensils. You can also buy beans, rice, and other grains in bulk, and store them in airtight buckets to keep them fresh. Freeze-dried foods are also an option. No matter what, be vigilant about insects and other vermin and mark every container with the date so you can properly rotate your supplies (eating the oldest food first). On a side note, be sure you actually know how to prepare the food you are storing, and that you keep auxiliary ingredients such as salt and oils for preparation.
An even longer-term solution for food is farming, including gardening and raising of livestock, but starting a sustainable farm is beyond the scope of this article.
Sanitation and cleanliness are absolutely necessary, not with the goal of winning awards for being squeaky clean, but for prevention of disease and contamination of your supplies. You have to remember that while off the grid (whether it goes down or you're leaving it deliberately) no one will pick up your garbage and you may not have a functioning sewage system. If the sewage or septic system does still work, you can still use the toilet in your home and flush it by pouring a bucket of water into it. If your toilet is inoperable for whatever reason, you can make a temporary latrine from a bucket, or opt for more permanent solutions— instructions for off-grid sanitation can be found online.
Also, never forget to wash your hands and dishes, regardless of circumstances. Keep a supply of soap and hand sanitizer, and you'll need water for washing as well as drinking.
At this point, electricity is going to sound like a luxury. What power you do generate should be reserved for lighting and electronics that will aid your survival. Most people buy generators, but those come with a need for fuel such as gasoline. Consider opting instead for a solar panel and battery packs.
As mentioned earlier, a satellite WiFi hotspot will allow you to connect to the Internet with your smartphone or tablet so you can remain aware of what's going on in the world, and of immediate considerations like weather, as long as news sites and weather apps are still up. You will also be able to access email.
Now you should have a good idea of where to start with survivalism and prepping. Hopefully, this will aid in your survival during an extreme scenario. Don't forget Outfitter Satellite offers discounts to the prepping community to help you remain connected. Stay safe!