A comprehensive preparedness guide for preppers just starting their preparedness journey.
This is a dynamic guide curated by all of our authors. How to Start Prepping is constantly being updated with up to date and accurate information, so please check back frequently for updates.
So you’re ready to start prepping and to be ready for any emergency or disaster?
Follow this guide to help you on your journey. We’ll review what prepping actually is, what it takes to be a prepper, and the basics steps to cover your bases.
You can also jump ahead to sections if you are a returning reader:
Contents (Jump to a Section)
What is Prepping?
The best definition of prepping is that it is common sense on steroids.
Prepping is simply following five steps:
- Learning your Threats
- Prioritizing Your Risks
- Making Plans
- Developing Kits
- Training and Sharing
Prepping can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like to make it. The scope of your preparedness journey depends on what resources you are willing to commit to your future stability.
The scale of prepping is up to you.
You’ve Already Begun Prepping
You have already started prepping.
Don’t believe us? Consider this:
- Do you have a savings account?
- Do you have first aid supplies?
- Do you have a smoke detector?
- Do you have any insurance?
- Do you keep gas in your car?
All of these are preparations to avoid or mitigate disasters and emergencies. You don’t need band-aids often, but you keep some on hand anyways. Buying this box before you get a cut is prepping.
Prioritize Your Risks
What could possibly go wrong?
At this point in your life, you’ve had a few things go wrong already. Experience is the greatest teacher, but you haven’t encountered it all yet. There are so many things that can go wrong in life that we can’t successfully list them all out.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. There is a whole section of science dedicated to figuring this all out called risk analysis.
History and statistics from NOAA showing us high risk tornado areas.
History and statistics combine to provide us with a pretty good idea of what could happen. Insurance companies use these extensively- their actuaries regularly calculate and quantify risks to create insurance policies. Their profitability is a testament to the calculations working.
Another big user of risk analysis is the US military. Scenarios and probabilities are not just developed for attacks- emergency management also covers the bases for emergencies and disasters. Planning, kits, and training are important to dealing with all of these, just like it is for individual preparedness.
Both of these are a little different than meteorologists, who use prediction models. Risk analysis is about the probability and impact of what can happen: not about predicting specific events. Sometimes even seasoned preppers can get this part confused: you may see some that are preparing for specific events, such as an EMP. By limiting their preparedness to a specific predicted event, they are not fully prepared for real-world possibilities. Unlike predicting weather events a week out, predicting mass-scale disasters years out is about as worthless as reading tea leaves.
Luckily, we’re here to steer you down the correct path.
We’ve developed a TrueRisk Analysis to help you prioritize your prepping in a practical way. This is a general risk analysis to help you prioritize the highest risk scenarios. Questions the TrueRisk Analysis can help answer include:
- With limited resources should I prepare for a CMP or an earthquake?
- Should I prepare for an EMP first?
- Is a nuclear accident impossible?
- Do I need a gas mask or a bug out bag?
The TrueRisk Analysis is not a custom, thorough examination of your specific situation. You can conduct your own risk analysis if you have time, which would be more comprehensive and specific to your situation:
Once you’ve figured out your risks with our TrueRisk Analysis, be sure to come back because we aren’t done yet with risks.
Now that you’ve identified the macro risks, we need to look at the personal risks that are just important. These risks are not large scale- but can be even more impactful on your life.
Health and Fitness for Preppers
When you think of preppers in the media, you may not picture the most fit and healthy person. This is a common misconception, since poor health and a low level of fitness can have an even greater impact during a disaster or emergency.
Poor health affects a wide range of people, ranging from permanent disabilities to obesity. Eventually health deteriorates for us all, since we cannot live forever.
Although we cannot totally control our health situations, science says that a responsible diet and occasional exercise as part of your lifestyle can improve and lengthen your lifespan.
Heart conditions, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases can be brought about by lifestyle choices. We know these are difficult to tackle during everyday life, but all of these make survival in emergency and disaster situations even more difficult.
Over two thirds of Americans are obese. The majority of onset blindness and the majority of amputations are caused by diabetes. (Source) If you have the opportunity to avoid these hardships, taking care of your body should be your first priority for prepping.
There are many things that can go wrong in life, but financial issues can be some of the more difficult situations for a family.
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make life and survival easier.
Make a Plan
Your plan can be written or verbal, small or large, a single plan or multiple plans, but it has to be shared and practiced. You have identified the threats, decided which you need to address and in what priority. Start with the high priority threats and plan accordingly.
Your plan should include in the very least communication information, safe locations depending on threat, and ways to avoid threats and be more safe. Talk with your family about your plans for various disasters, emergencies, and survival scenarios. Share with trusted friends and ask for critiques to identify weak points in your planning.
We make it easy with a downloadable and printable basic emergency plan that prompts you to fill in whatever you need:
Develop your Preparedness Kits
Your prepper kit can be generic, such as a simple disaster/survival kit, or it can be custom tuned to all threats you anticipate using specialized kits. The kit guides on TruePrepper are meant to get you started on developing different kits based on your needs. Our gear reviews are here to flesh out your prepper arsenal based on our collective knowledge and experience with the gear we share. Be wary of some items targeted to preppers online and in stores, as it is not always “you get what you pay for.”
Train with Your Kits
Set a schedule to practice, evaluate, and revise your emergency plans- at least annually. How do you prepare for the threats besides practicing your plan? You can mitigate them before they happen.
If you live in a flood plain, look into flood insurance. Stay fit. You will be surprised at how much that helps all aspects of your life- not just during emergencies. Be resourceful. Keep learning new things- never stop learning. Survival skills are not only a huge help in making yourself self-sufficient, they are pretty fun to learn too.
Last of all, although it is serious business to prepare for what life brings your way, try to have fun with it. If you find you enjoy prepping, you are more likely to stick with it and transfer the importance of being prepared to people you interact with.
The Next Step
Now that we’ve covered the basics of prepping, we’re going to dig deeper into the specific kits preppers use to improve their chances of survival.
The first kit we discuss is the foundation of all survival kits: the in-place survival kit.