Are you worried about a natural disaster or an economic breakdown? Are you worried how you would feed your family if you couldn’t go to the grocery store? Most Americans have only three days worth of food in their house and most grocery stores only have a three-day supply in the store. This guide is intended to get you from the average American to a more prepared lifestyle, it’s up to you if you want to call yourself a prepper.
The first priority is water, remember the saying “water is life”. The old rule is that you can only survive three days without water, there is that number three again. It is estimated that a normal American uses 100 gallons of water per day. 100 gallons! That is a huge amount and there is no way that you could possible store that amount for any length of time. Now this includes all water uses in a day such as showering, cooking, laundry, and many others. You will find quickly that in a SHTF scenario you won’t be doing much laundry or showering, thus the prepper guideline is one gallon of water per person per day. This is all you get for drinking, which should be a half-gallon per day, cooking, and hygiene. When you hear one gallon per day it sounds a lot more reasonable, but that is still significant. One gallon of water weighs 8.36 pounds. Say you have a family of four and you want to have a three-day supply of water, well, that is 12 gallons and 12 gallons weighs just over 100 pounds. That is a significant amount of weight and storing it can be a challenge depending on your living situation.
The first thing to do would be to get a pack of water the next time you are at the store. These often come in a pack of 24 and are usually 16.9 ounces each, which turns out to be 3.16 gallons of water total. This is a good start and the water bottles can come in handy in a SHTF scenario. The next step is to store larger quantities of water in your home. A good way to do this is with a WaterBrick, these are great because they are strong and stackable. A cheaper option is Reliance 7 Gallon Rigid Water Container, I personally have three of these and they work great. A few important notes about storing water in containers, keep them away from direct sunlight and in a cool area. You should also change the water every six months. There is some debate among preppers if this is necessary if you store the water in a dark cool area, but better safe than sorry.
Now you are miles ahead of the average American when it comes to available water in a collapse situation, but don’t stop there. If you followed the above steps you still would only have about a weeks worth of water, that is not enough if in a true collapse situation. You might be thinking that you can’t possible store anymore water in your house, well there are some ways to use the water you already have in your house. One great product is waterBOB. This is a plastic reservoir that you put into the bathtub and then fill from faucet. This is a great way to store 60 gallons of water in a hurry, much more if you have more than one bathtub. These come in a small box that I store under the sink in the bathroom, ready to go at a moments notice. Most municipalities will continue to supply water for a short time in a collapse situation, if nothing else until all pressure in the pipes is gone, that is why it is essential to fill these reservoirs as soon as possible in a collapse situation. You should also fill any containers that you have in your house such as: pots, pitchers, water bottles, coffee maker, etc. This will add up quickly and increase your chances for survival. A last resort for water in your house is the hot water heater. This can be from 40-60 gallons of fresh water, though you will probably want to filter or treat this water because of the particulates than can be picked up in a hot water tank.
Hopefully you now have a plan for how to have plenty of water in your house, but what happens when that runs out? This is where a good water filter comes in. Now if you go to Amazon and search for water filters you will be inundated with results and could get easily overwhelmed. Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System is a good first step in water filtration, I would recommend one of these for every person in the family. The next level of filter would be one that can treat a whole family and my filter of choice from my backpacking days is Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter. This filter is small yet powerful enough to provide you plenty of water, 300 gallons per cartridge. The ultimate home filtration system is the Big Berkey Water Filter System. This system filters up to 15 gallons per day and has a life span of 6,000 gallons of water. That is enough to last a family of four over four years!
The rule of three states that you can survive up to three weeks without food. This does not mean that the three weeks will be pleasant, you will experience stomach pains, headaches, sluggishness, and nausea. Most Americans eat more than they should everyday, this is why 68.8% of Americans are considered overweight or obese. If we experience a SHTF scenario, that number will drop rapidly and painfully. The first thing that you should do is take an inventory of the food stuffs that you have on hand. The easiest way to make a post-collapse situation bearable is to continue eating the same types of foods, now this doesn’t include McDonald’s and Burger King, they won’t make it very long when the SHTF. After you inventory your food, the next time you go to the store you should buy more of that same type of food, that is shelf stable. A few good examples are pasta, cereals, soups, chili, rice, beans, and canned vegetables.
The easiest way to incorporate new items into your preps is to try a new item each week. There is no point in buying a 50 pound bucket of rice from a prepper store if no one in your house eats rice, or you don’t know how to cook it. So start slow, try different food types each week and incorporate the ones that your family likes into your preps. The best way to build up your supply is to just buy more of these items each time you go to the store. Don’t forget to have some comfort foods as well, this will help keep morale up, I personally like dark chocolate and have a few bars stored. After you have a good supply, you should inventory and take a look at the number of calories each item has. The average person needs about 2,000 calories per day to maintain their weight. This number can vary drastically based upon your individual height, weight, and activity level, but we will use 2,000 calories as a guideline.
Once you have stored foods that you normally eat and can buy easily at the store, it is time to look at long-term survival food. This is usually freeze-dried and can be purchased from numerous online retailers. Mountain House is probably the most popular of these, mainly due to its popularity with backpackers. These long-term foods can be purchased in small pouches, the size backpackers prefer, in large #10 cans, or in buckets. This is one of the easiest ways to add a well-balanced daily diet into your long-term storage. Some of the important things about these types of food is that storage life can be up to 25 years if they are in low temperature and low humidity conditions, thus a garage or an attic are not good options. And if you have more money than time, you buy a full year supply of these foods and have your long-term prepping done.
Once you have a stockpile of food and water, the next thing you need to do is research. This can be the most fun step if you like learning, or the toughest step if you are a very busy person. Read as much as possible. You need to learn about the different scenarios that you are prepping for. Depending on what you are prepping for, you will prioritize different items in different orders. This could be things like a generator, firearms, a solar system, a bug out location, and many others. Food and water are by far the most important and hopefully you will have those covered after reading this article and taking the steps listed.
Read these articles Top Prepper Books: Fiction and Top Prepper Reference Books this will help you find some books to read and more references. Also visit the numerous other prepper websites that are out there, a link to some of my favorites are at the top of the page under “Sites I Like”.
As always, Happy Prepping.