From an ordinary (non-prepper) person's point-of-view, the problem with the prepper/survivalist community is that we are preparing for extreme disasters - EMP attacks, worldwide plagues, economic and political collapse. Things that ordinary folks don't really believe will happen (or at least they don't want to believe will happen). But smaller, and much much common, emergencies do happen to thousands of ordinary people everyday - skinned knees, kitchen fires, power outages, car breakdowns, an unexpected job loss... We all, preppers or not, need to be prepared for life's little emergencies.
Preparedness for Non-Preppers: Everyone Needs To Be Ready For Life's Everyday Emergencies
1- Personal preparedness starts with a good attitude and mental health. Develop healthy relationships (spouse, family, friends, God). Weed out toxic people from your life. Deal now with any addictions you may have. Get enough sleep. Learn to relax and reduce stress in your life. See my article on mental preparedness for more details on this topic.
2- Personal preparedness includes developing good health and fitness. This is hard and time consuming, but well worth the time and effort! Learn to eat healthy. Be physically active. Stop smoking and/or abusing drugs or alcohol. Get enough sleep. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Visit your doctor and dentist on a regular basis. For more details, please see my article Steps to Good Health.
3- Personal preparedness includes learning new skills. I suggest everyone take a good first aid/CPR course. Everyone should take a good self-defense course. Learn how to swim. Other skills you may want to consider are learning a second language, learning to sew, learning basic auto maintenance and repair, learning to garden, etc... The more you know, the better off you will be. Build Self-Reliance.
4- Preppers and survivalists have a concept call Every-Day Carry (EDC). Basically, it is the stuff you carry with you everyday - your cell phone, car keys, wallet, sunglasses, and so forth. Preppers look at their EDC with an eye towards being prepared for emergencies, and often include such things as a pocket knife, multi-tool, a small, individual first aid kit (IFAK), and other useful items. For a look at my EDC, see the article My EDC Pocket Dump, as well as the article My Most Often Used EDC Items. Start looking at the stuff you carry everyday with an eye towards your own preparedness.
5- Keep you cell phone charged at all times. Carry a cell phone charger with you always.
1- Emergencies can be expensive. Every family should have an Emergency Fund in a savings account at a local bank or credit union. How much depends upon your family's size and circumstances. Many financial experts recommend between six-months and two-years worth of expenses. Dave Ramsey recommends that those trying to get out of debt have at least $1000 stuck back for emergencies as step one of his Baby Steps program. My rule is "Some is better than none, and more is better still." Start as small as you have to, and build upon that start until you achieve a sizable emergency fund.
2- ATM's and other electronic devices may not be working due to a power outage or whatever. Or the banks may simply be closed (weekends, holidays) when you need cash. So, it is a good idea to have some money stuck back in a safe, hidden place at home. Decide for yourself how much you ned, but I'd try for at least a couple hundred bucks in cash.
3- There are lots of other aspects to financial preparedness. If you are interested in this subject, I'd highly recommend you read my article Finances - Get Back to Basics.
Preparedness at Home
1- Make sure everyone in your household is aware of what to do in case of a fire. They should know at least two escape routes.
2- Make sure everyone knows, especially younger kids, how to call 911 in an emergency.
3- Every home & apartment should have at least one working smoke detector. Make sure the batteries are fresh!
4- Every home & apartment should have at least on Fire Extinguisher. Be sure everyone in your home knows where it is and how to use it. A possible alternative, back-up, or supplement to the traditional fire extinguisher is the Fire Gone Extinguishers. These are smaller, less expensive, very easy-to-use, and easier to clean-up.
5- Have a First Aid Kit in your home. Make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it. A good first aid handbook is useful, but all adults and all children of school age should take a first aid/CPR course.
6- Have a good LED Flashlight, and extra batteries. Several are better than one. Consider keeping a flashlight in each major room of your house.
7- So you can stay informed of what's going on in a power outage, you should have a battery-powered AM/FM/NOAA Radio. Don't forget to have plenty of extra batteries. You can keep up with weather and news reports, emergency announcements, school and business closings, and so forth...
8- You need to have some food & water stored. Many preppers and survivalists strive for a year or more worth of stored food & water, but most non-preppers think that is extreme. But everyone should have at least a week's worth (and two weeks is even better) of food & water. Think in terms of not being able to go to the store because of a bad winter storm or similar event... Oh, don't forget to include some foods you don't have to cook (peanut butter, pop-tarts, canned tuna, canned pasta, canned fruits, etc.) in case their is a power outage.
9- Do a home safety inspection. Walk around every room of your home, looking for potential problems, such as clutter that can cause falls, fire hazards, and poison that is unmarked or easily-accessible by kids. Make sure all knives, guns, matches, lighters, etc., are secured from young kids. Walk around you property and all outbuildings doing the same thing. Most scouts learn to do these safety inspections as part of earning various merit badges and skill awards, so if you know a scout, have them do it for you!
10- If you have guns, please teach your children gun safety. The NRA has gun safety programs for all ages, including young kids.
11- You may also want to check out my article Workshop and DIY Safety.
Preparedness On the Go
1- Keep your vehicle in good repair. Perform all routine maintenance on a regular basis. Make sure your tires and brakes are in good condition, and all your headlights, taillights and directional signals are working. Drive safely, and practice defensive driving. Pay attention. Don't drive distracted (no talking on a cell phone or texting while driving). Doing these things will make you less likely to get in a wreck, break down, or get a ticket.
2- Keep a pair of jumper cables and/or a car battery charger in your vehicle. Make sure all drivers in your family know how to use them.
3- Make sure you have a good spare tire in your vehicle, along with all tools you need with it. Make sure all drivers know how to change a flat tire. Consider a can of Fix-a-Flat for quick use in an emergency.
4- All drivers should know how to check the oil level, and how to add extra oil if needed. Same for transmission fluid, brake fluid, engine coolant, and other fluids.
5- Its a good idea to always keep an overnight bag packed and ready to go at a moments notice in case you ever need to evacuate your home on short notice (approaching wildfire, nearby chemical spill, etc.). Peppers and survivalists typically call this "bugging out" and put together "bug out bags" that can be quite extensive. Non-preppers should pack, at a minimum, a change of clothes, personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.), some snack food (possibilities: packs of seeds & nuts, peanut butter crackers, energy/protein bars), and a couple of bottles of water. Other items you might consider: a small first aid kit, a compact emergency survival kit (see my article on putting one together), a good road map of your area, a three-day supply of any prescription medications. an extra pair of glasses, a good multi-tool, etc. You should also include copies of important paperwork (either on paper or a USB flash drive), such as driver's license, birth certificate, insurance numbers, credit card and bank account info, mortgage/deed info, medical information, etc.
You might want to pack a few items to keep you entertained while waiting to return home. Possibilities for adults include playing cards or a book. Possibilities for kids include coloring books & crayons, a small toy, or card games like Old Maid and Go Fish.
6- If your typical footwear is dress shoes, high heels, sandals, or flip-flops, I suggest you keep a pair of more practical athletic shoes or hiking boots in you vehicle, for when you need them.
7- Maps, a road atlas, and written directions to possible destinations in an emergency (Grandma's house, Uncle Fred's place, etc.) are a good idea. Smart phones, Google maps, and GPS may be temporarily down.
8- Keep your gas tank topped off. I rarely let mine drop to even the halfway mark.
A Note on Children
All kids should learn their full names, address, phone number, and parents' full names as soon as possible, well before kindergarten. Consider getting them "dog tags" to wear with this info, along with blood type, allergies, and import medical info. They should also learn how to call 911 in an emergency. They should start learning first aid early on - various scouting programs are great at this and teaching other skills, so join them up as soon as possible.