I was recently asked, “What are the 3 most important items for a new prepper to get started with?”
This is a difficult question to answer without knowing any details about the person to whom I’m giving advice.
For example, what I recommend to a single person living in an apartment in the city would be quite different from what I would recommend to a family living on 10 acres of land. These are two vastly different situations that require different preparations.
For the purpose of answering the question I was asked, I decided to take the middle ground by assuming that I’m giving advice to an average family (married couple, two kids) who lives in the suburbs. My advice is also based on this basic principle, which I recently shared on Facebook:
In any non-violent survival situation, you must follow standard operating procedures. Therefore, you must take care of shelter, water, and food — in that order.
With that in mind, here are what I believe to be the three most important items to get first.
Item #1: High-quality sleeping bags for each member of the family.
In almost every kind of survival situation, your priorities will be in this order: shelter, water, food. So my first recommendation has to do with shelter.
I recommend families have a high-quality sleeping bag for each member of the family. Why sleeping bags? Because one of the quickest ways to die is hypothermia.
I’ve been on the edge of hypothermia one time in my life and I never want to experience it again. Hypothermia can kill you in a matter of a few hours. But if you have high-quality sleeping bags, your entire family will be protected from exposure to cold temperatures.
Do NOT get your sleeping bags at Wal-Mart or any other general merchandise store. Do not get those heavy, rectangular, cheap cotton sleeping bags. Those aren’t much good.
I recommend you get your sleeping bags at an outdoors specialty store like REI. Get high-quality mummy bags that can be stuffed into a small sack for easy carrying.
At a bare minimum, you’ll want the bags rated down to 30F degrees. Better to get them rated to 15F degrees. A zero-degree bag is probably overkill for most places in the U.S., but might be your first choice in areas that routinely go below zero during the winter.
These sleeping bags could be taken on the road if necessary and could even be used inside your home if your GFA furnace was no longer operational due to a natural gas shortage or loss of electricity.
Item #2: A portable water filter.
If you don’t first die of exposure (hypothermia), you could die from drinking contaminated water. That’s why a portable water filter is a necessity.
I have three portable water filters, including a Katadyn Hiker Pro. I can take one or more of them with me if I ever need to bug out and leave my home. I can also use these filters inside my home.
For example, let’s say a nearby water treatment facility fails and no water is being supplied to my house for 24-72 hours. I can use my portable filters to purify the water that’s sitting in the reservoir in the back of my toilets. I can also walk down to a nearby stream and filter the water there.
By having a portable water filter, you virtually guarantee you will always have clean drinking water available.
Item #3: A store of non-perishable food.
I personally believe our modern food system is extremely vulnerable. Very few people store food. Fewer still grow their own food — or even know how. So if there is any kind of disruption to the food supply, I expect millions to go hungry.
The solution is simple: Start building your own personal store of non-perishable food.
You can take the easy (more expensive) way by purchasing a 30-day, 90-day, or 12-month supply from a supplier like Food Insurance. Or you can take a more methodical approach by buying extra food from your local grocery store, Costco, or Sam’s Club.
One last option to consider is buying from a local supplier or co-op. The prices you can find locally are often the lowest you’ll find anywhere.
Items you may want to consider stocking: steel-cut oats, rice, beans, pasta, canned foods, dehydrated fruit (like apricots, prunes, etc.), and chicken stock.
My local Costco stocks large bags of rice, and I recommend you buy at least one bag for your store of food.
Keep in mind that storing food will not only help you in a widespread food crisis — it will also help you in a personal crisis. If you or your partner (or both of you) are ever out of work and have drained all your accounts, at least you’ll still be able to eat!
So there you have it: the 3 items new preppers should get first.
Other experts will obviously approach this question from a different set of assumptions and arrive at different answers. Your assumptions will always drive your behaviors. Keep that in mind as you continue prepping.
Don’t be scared. Be prepared.
P.S. Have a question you’d like me to answer in a future blog article? Contact me here.