Preparedness is a lifestyle born of a particular mindset—a mindset that enables you to act in the face of unexpected adversity. Skills are more important than brands, and a bucket of beans is worth more than all the doomsday movies in the world. For all of you who are preparedness beginners, don’t get overwhelmed by all the gear and tools and bush crafting toys out there. Just start with fortifying your family against common scenarios and build from there. Here are three simple scenarios you can prepare for that can lay the foundation for preparedness—and none of these need to waste your time or money on slick advertising.
1. Prepare for an unexpected loss of income.
Whether you were suddenly disabled, or the company went under, it doesn’t matter. You now have to live off of whatever you have on hand until you can find another source of income. What do you need to bridge this gap?
1. An emergency fund containing at least 3 months’ living expenses.
2. A full pantry. Canned goods, dry goods, spices, and so on. Try to have at least 3 months of food.
3. A vehicle kept in good repair, if applicable.
Relevant life skills: Two habits will serve you well here: Reliably frugal spending and keeping the pantry consistently stocked with regularly used items like toilet paper, medications, soap, and so on. When you find yourself holding a pink slip, you don’t have to worry about the cost of restocking the cupboards—they’re full for now, and you don’t have to worry about the bills—there’s enough to pay them for a while.
2. Prepare for an extended power outage.
Let’s say an “Act of God” has knocked out the power grid, forced shut off of various utilities, and caused road closures and blockages, interfering with normal emergency services. Conditions could persist for a week or more. What should be added to the list above? 2
1. Water for drinking, cooking, and bathing for each member of your household for at least a week
2. Flashlights, a hand-operated radio, batteries
3. Extra blankets, socks, hats, gloves, and a source of heat—wood-burning fireplace with firewood or an indoor-rated space heater with propane, for example
4. A grill or camping stove with appropriate fuel
5. First-aid medical supplies in case of accidents
6. Entertainment suitable for your family
Relevant life skills: Finding and using the relevant emergency radio channels for your area. Knowing how to set up and utilize alternative equipment such as the space heater, wood-burning fireplace, grill, camping stove, and so on. First-aid skills such as wound cleaning, how to stop bleeding, CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and how to treat shock.
3. Prepare for car trouble.
Imagine blowing a tire in an area without cell signal during a snowstorm. Have everything you might need in your vehicle for your vehicle repair. Also have a smaller bag containing items for passengers to wait it out safely should those repair attempts fail. What will you put in your vehicle?
Many lists are available online. They include things like jumper cables, a tow strap, a tire patch kit, a tire inflator, a properly maintained spare tire, an ice scraper and snowbrush, duct tape, extra fluids, rags and paper towels, and more.
What’s in the passenger bag?
2. Preserved food like energy bars
3. Some cash
4. Doubles of what you already have in your home: Another first-aid kit, another radio, flashlight, spare batteries, something to do while waiting out the storm, and another set of cold-weather gear: blankets, hats, socks, and gloves.
Tip: If you add maps or a hand-held GPS unit, a poncho, and some sturdy walking shoes, you now have a bag that could potentially be used to get you to the nearest point of cell signal, the nearest gas station, or even your home if the distance and conditions are right.
Relevant life skills: Car diagnoses and repair. Start with practicing changing a car tire. Start checking and changing your own oil if you aren’t already. When something goes wrong, first do the legwork to try to diagnose it yourself and use the chance to learn from your mechanic.
Preparing for these three scenarios alone mean you are prepared for acute emergencies like severe weather events, chronic problems like three months of unemployment, basic medical emergencies at home or while traveling, and challenges to vehicular mobility. That’s a lot of bases covered with just three scenarios. Don’t focus on the tools or the myriad concerns that come with all the fictionalized Armageddon scenarios—just focus on fortifying your family against the most common “disasters” that strike every day, and you will be well on your way.