No Longer a Newbie
Those new to prepping should concentrate on preparing for short-term emergencies, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. This will mostly consist of stockpiling maybe a month's worth of food, water & other supplies, acquiring some basic gear such as first aid kits, fire extinguishers, emergency radios & flashlights, and acquiring a few skills such as first aid and a self-reliant mindset. You should have also developed a family communications plan and a short-term bug-out plan, including where to go and how to get there. This is a great start, better than 90% of the general population. (To make sure you've covered these basics, see my articles New to prepping? Here are your next steps and A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End.)
Now its time to turn your attention to longer-term emergencies, which may last months instead of just days or weeks. This next level of prepping & survivalism is what many folks call Intermediate Prepping. There are no hard and fast rules on what exactly constitutes intermediate prepping, other than it builds on the basics that you (hopefully) covered in the beginning of your prepper journey.
My take on intermediate prepping is:
- to expand your preparedness stockpile
- to develop the plans & skills needed for a longer-term emergency
- to develop a survival mindset that you incorporate into your everyday life
One of the first things you probably did early in your prepper journey was to build a prepper stockpile. You acquired at least a couple of weeks' worth of food, water, and other supplies. This should carry you through a short-term event, such as a winter storm, when you can't get to a store for a brief period of time. But, what if the emergency lasts longer than a few weeks? Now is the time to expand your prepper stockpile from a few weeks', or even a couple of months', worth of supplies, to at least six month's worth. A year's worth is even better.
This is typically the easiest part of prepping, as it usually amounts to just buying more stuff (but coming up with the money to do so can certainly be challenging). But as you move beyond just a few weeks' worth of stuff, you are going to start to encounter some problems. Here are a few ideas on how to handle those challenges:
- Frozen and refrigerated foods don't count for long-term food storage. This is because once the power goes out, they will quickly go bad. Instead, you will have to depend on foods that don't require electricity to store, such as canned and dried foods.
- Perishable items, such as milk, cheese, butter, and eggs are problematic for long-term storage. Your best bet is powdered, dehydrated or freeze-dried products, but this option an be expensive. For my money, Augason Farms has the best selection, good quality, and are reasonably priced.
- Its easy to get caught up in food & water storage and forget about other supplies. Make sure to stock up on cleaning & hygiene supplies, first aid supplies, medicine & medical supplies, batteries, sturdy clothes & shoes, ammo, and repair supplies (tools, nails, screws, duct tape, gorilla tape, sewing supplies, etc.), and other supplies you may need.
- Don't forget about your vehicles. Learn how to safely store gasoline, and be sure to stock up oil, filters, transmission fluid, brake fluid, spare wipers, and other supplies to keep your vehicle running as long as possible.
- Water, being very bulky and heavy, is difficult to store in large quantities. You can buy and install large water tanks, but most folks will need to learn how to collect and treat water for a long term solution. Make sure you have the supplies to do so.
Develop the plans & skills needed for a longer-term emergency.
Intermediate preppers need to understand and plan for the potential consequences of a "grid down" situation, particularly one that lasts for months or longer before things even begin to return to normal.
A disaster usually will result in the temporary or permanent loss of many of the “comforts of civilization” we are used to enjoying. Comforts of civilization are those things that are provided to us by modern civilization that we tend to take for granted. It would be difficult for most modern people to provide many of these things for themselves, especially without learning new skills, stockpiling tools and supplies, and preparing well in advance for their loss.
These comforts of civilization we may lose include:
* Readily available running water that is safe to drink.
* Readily available food from stores and restaurants.
* “Flush and forget” human waste disposal.
* Modern medicine and health care.
* Readily available electricity for lighting, heating, cooling, cooking and hot water.
* Readily available natural gas for heating, cooking and hot water.
* Readily available liquid fuel for cars, trucks, tractors and planes.
* Instant long distance communication (phones, email, etc.).
* Ready access to education.
* Ready access to emergency services such as fire, police, and paramedics.
* Most modern luxuries (television, IPods, computers & the Internet, etc.)
* Ability to spend money without having it (credit cards, mortgages, installment plans, etc.)
How will the loss of these modern luxuries affect you and your family? When the tap water stops running, and your water storage is used up, what will you do then? (Answer: Before it happens, learn various ways to collect and treat water.) When your food storage runs out, and the grocery store shelves are still bare, how will you feed your family? (Possible answers: Before it happens, learn how to garden, hunt, fish, forage for wild edibles, raise chickens for eggs & meat...)
How will you stay warm and heat your home without electricity or natural gas? How will you buy things when cash is worthless and the credit card and banking system is down? These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself, and start making contingency plans now before it happens. These contingency plans will likely require learning new skills, making attitude adjustments, and acquiring special gear and supplies.
Develop a survival mindset.
Sure, part of developing a survival mindset is simply realizing that you do need to be prepared for future emergencies, but there is so much more to it. Survivalism is, at its heart, about rejecting the modern way of thinking - dependency, entitlement, selfishness, obliviousness, and a "sheep mentality" - and embracing a mentality of self-reliance, personal responsibility, industriousness, awareness, and perseverance. It is also about incorporating this new mindset into your everyday life, not just during an emergency.
It is difficult to develop and practice these traits in a modern world that seems geared to the opposite. Here are some articles that may help:
- What Exactly is Self-Reliance? (on this website)
- Skills Every Real Man Should Have (on this website)
- How To Not Panic In An Emergency (on this website)
- Prepper's Guide to Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop - this article has been called "the best guide to situational awareness available on the Internet" (on this website)
- How to Practice Perseverance (on an external website)
Fernando "FerFAL" Aguirre, author of the best seller The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse and a long-time advocate for preparedness & survivalism, has a new book out. Street Survival Skills: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Modern Survival is based on his experiences during and after the economic collapse of Argentina. In it, he explains practical urban survival skills such as Situational awareness, home and street security, everyday carry, dealing with blackouts, survival kits and weapons, how to fight with a gun, knife, bare hands or improvised weapons, how to respond against a terrorist or mass shooter, barricade doors or how to breach them, how to stop a bleeding and carry a casualty, defensive driving, home remedies and many others practical skills.
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