So, You Want To Be A Prepper? Easy Steps To Level 1 Preparedness
If an emergency were to occur right now, are you prepared? Do you have enough food, water, and supplies to survive a long-term emergency when access to medical care and other emergency services are all but non-existent?
Would you know what to do if disaster strikes?
If you’re like most Americans, chances are good that the answer to all the above questions is probably an unenthusiastic “no.” These days, in the world of Amazon and same-day shipping, many people are used to simply ordering anything they want online and it arrives on their doorstep in just a few days’ time.
Online shopping is a great resource, of course, but if a major earthquake destroys roads, a blizzard and an ice storms take down power lines, or something else disrupts supply lines, you’ll be out of luck if you’re betting on Amazon bringing you your next months’ worth of food.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to be prepared so that you and your family can survive an emergency. The question is, are you ready to commit?
Becoming a Prepper can seem like a daunting task. Bug out bags, every day carry kits, long-term food supplies, and other supplies you need to be prepared can feel overwhelming, both mentally and financially, when you’re getting started.
Thankfully, there are different “levels” of prepping for disaster that you can follow to get started. These levels help guide us from beginner (Level 1) to expert Prepper (Level 3) and help focus our efforts on what’s important as we learn and grow.
What is a Level 1 Prepper?
On the Prepper scale, we will broadly define Preppers into 3 groups, Level 1, Level 2, and finally the pinnacle – Level 3 Prepper.
A Level 1 Prepper is anyone who is just starting out on their prepping path. You have some of the basics in your Prepper stash and are beginning to contemplate what type of survival or disaster scenarios are most applicable to you and your family.
A Level 1 Prepper should be focused on having the basic skills and supplies necessary to manage comfortably through a short-term disruption (power outage, storm, or other).
Starting your Prepper journey by focusing your efforts on basic preparation supplies and skills can give you a fantastic foundation upon which to build a more advanced skill set and a stockpile of resources – and of course jump up the Prepper ladder.
What emergencies can a Level 1 prepper handle?
At this level, the emergencies you’ll be able to deal with will be a few days to a week long. These emergencies could include severe weather or some other “lock-down” type event that forces you to stay inside your home.
Things a Level 1 Prepper should consider being prepared for include:
- Disconnected phone lines or internet (you would be surprised how many things rely on the internet these days),
- Impassable roads, and
- Inability to go to the store to replenish supplies.
These emergencies are often fairly short-term, so after a few days to a week, everything is back to normal.
Short term emergencies happen somewhat regularly and are worth being prepared for. Whenever a hurricane or winter storm is forecast, there are always mobs of people rushing to supermarkets and convenience stores to stock up on food, batteries, and flashlights.
A Level 1 Prepper wouldn’t find themselves caught up in this mad rush, however, because they’re already prepared with the supplies they need to see the situation through.
The 5 Things You Need to be a Level 1 Prepper?
When you think about hunkering down in your home for a few days, the essential supplies include the basics I am sure you are aware of.
1) Emergency Food Stash
If the grocery stores are closed, do you have enough food to survive a week? Sure, a healthy human can survive three weeks or more without food but going hungry during an emergency certainly won't help your ability to deal with a situation.
Having at least 7 days’ worth of food at home can make a huge difference. Note, I said 7 days instead of 72 hours (or 3 days), because we are Preppers so why not spring for the entire week, right?!
When preparing your emergency food stores as a Level 1 Prepper, focus on having a 7-day supply of food for each person in your family. Ensure that whatever food you have is easy to cook at your home as your stovetop probably won’t work during a blackout. You may need to fire up a grill to boil water or start a campfire in the backyard.
Stock up on foods that you know you and your family will eat and ensure that you’ve taken everyone’s dietary restrictions and needs into account. It’s also wise to have a variety of different foods in your stores as people will quickly get sick of baked beans after eating them for 5 days in a row.
Make sure that you keep track of when your food stores expire, too, as you don’t want someone getting sick from an old can of tuna in the middle of a blizzard.
Personally I prefer to keep freeze dried food in my home. It lasts nearly 30 years so I view it as an insurance policy for me and my family - see more here.
2) Emergency Water Supplies (or Water Filters)
When a major disaster strikes, our municipal water supplies often become unsafe or questionable as water treatment plants are unable to operate in such conditions.
It’s important to make sure you have an adequate supply of water to get you through an emergency.
A good rule of thumb is a gallon of water per person per day should be considered an absolute minimum for your emergency water supplies.
If you live in a particularly hot environment or have specific medical needs that require more water, you might want to up this to one and a half or two gallons per person per day.
There are many different ways to store water (see here), but it’s important that you do so correctly to avoid contaminating your emergency water supplies.
Water in plastic water bottles and jugs does have an expiration date, as there comes a point when the chemicals in the plastic start leaching into the water. Be sure to rotate your supplies so you always have safe water on hand or consider having a good portable water filter on hand like this.
3) Portable Light Source
Sitting at home in the dark is no fun and could be dangerous if you end up in an emergency without a light source. Our power often goes out when trees take down power lines in our area – living your life without a portable light source can be very difficult (try showering in the morning without a quality camping lamp)!
Flashlights and headlamps make excellent light sources in an emergency because they’re lightweight and portable.
For Level 1 Preppers, a headlamp or flashlight will probably be enough to get you through the dark nights until the power in your home is restored. It’s a good idea to have more than one flashlight or headlamp in your supply kit and having one per person in your family is really handy.
Consider how much kids love flashlights when the power goes out – make sure you have one for each or things get crazy!
Also consider always have spare batteries (make sure they’re the right type for your light source) on hand, so you don’t end up in the dark. Alternatively, we have one of these for each person in our house (kids included) – link.
4) Emergency radio
If the power, internet, and phone lines are down, you might be stuck at home without any means of communication (remember your cell phone will die within a day or two).
In that case, an emergency radio can connect you to news outlets, which can give you up-to-date information on the situation.
These radios can be invaluable in keeping up morale and keeping people informed about what emergency services are doing to return things to a state of normalcy.
Many emergency radios run on batteries (so have spares) but others can also be powered by a hand crank or solar panel (my favorite here).
Regardless of what kind of emergency radio you choose, be sure that you have some way to keep it charged, as it can offer invaluable information for you and your family during an emergency.
5) First aid kit
During an emergency, medical resources often get overwhelmed. Particularly in a mass-casualty or large-scale incident, there just aren’t enough ambulances, medical helicopters, or hospital beds to treat everyone.
Even if there hasn’t been a single, destructive event, severe weather can make roads impassable and hamper emergency services’ abilities to get to your home, even in a life or death situation.
A Level 1 Prepper should make sure that they have a quality first aid kit ready to go at their home. Usually, these first aid kits contain gauze, bandages, and other trauma supplies, as well as an assortment of over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin.
I personally like this one for a good general backup.
In addition to over-the-counter supplies that you can pick up at a drugstore, you’ll want to make sure you include back-up supplies of any prescription medications that you are currently on. Especially if these medications are critically important to your health, you don’t want to risk running out of them during an emergency, as your ability to get to the hospital might be severely limited. More advice here on how to prep with a medical condition.
Also consider stocking up on basic OTC medications with our list here.
To sum it all up
Now that you know how to get started as a Level 1 Prepper, it’s time to put some work in on your part. You’ll want to go out and gather up the supplies you’ll need to survive an emergency. Find a safe, but convenient place in your house to store all these supplies and make sure everyone in your family knows how to use them.
Once you get to this point – CONGRATS! - you should be proud of yourself for taking the first steps toward preparedness.
After you feel comfortable with the skills and supplies necessary for being a Level 1 Prepper, you can start to think about moving on toward becoming an Level 2 Prepper, where your skills, knowledge, and supplies will truly be put to the test as you try to prepare for emergencies that are a month or two long.
Advancing to become a Level 3 Prepper is a personal journey, but we’re here to help, so check back in for more advice on becoming a skilled Prepper.