5 Steps to Survival Preparation For The Average Guy (or Gal)

How to Prep for FamilyWould you want anyone to consider you a “prepper?”  For a lot of people, the image conjures up some wild-eyed madman sleeping in a buried shipping crate in the middle of the desert.

But you’re not that kook.

See, the media wants you to think that you’re crazy for storing a little food, water and medicine for your family.  The main stream media wants anything even remotely connected with self empowerment (read, not dependent on government) to be vilified and marginalized.

Forget them!

First of all, it’s none of anybody’s business what you do in the privacy of your own home.  Second, taking common sense precautions is, well, common sense.

Just think for a minute:  What if your little girl needed medicine, and there was no power, and your car either didn’t run or you couldn’t get gas for it?

Could you carry her to the hospital?

What if the water were turned off for a month and you have three small children or an infant at home.

What would you do?

If you think you don’t need to worry about it, just ask the 300,000 people of West Virginia who had their water contaminated by a chemical spill.  Or maybe ask the people in New Jersey when 1.4 million lost power – some for over a month.

There is something you can do.  Start here with these 5 steps for emergency preparedness for the regular guy or gal…

Step 1:  Emergency Water Storage

Most guidelines suggest 1 gallon per day, per person.  For most regular people, this is the hardest part.  If you’re on public water, one good suggestion is to get a 55 Gallon Water Barrel.  You can find a good one at Emergency Essentials.

With this, you’ll have a great start.  For a family of 3, this will provide enough water for about 16 days or so.  Find a place in the basement or garage for it, consider putting it on a couple 2×4’s or maybe on strong casters to move it if necessary.

Step 2:  Pack a Survival Emergency Kit

Make a list of all the things you must have in terms of medicines or health products.  Extra prescriptions, a good first aid kit, over the counter pain meds, an antihistamine, thermometer and other health essentials.  If you have a baby at home, think this through!  An extra box of diapers would make it to this kit for sure.

In addition to a great first aid and medicine kit, here you should be thinking about a few extra blankets.  Of course, consider your geography and plan accordingly.  If you live in Minnesota, make that a couple extra blankets.

Step 3: Food Storage Preparation

If all you’re trying to do is get two or three days of preps set up, you won’t need to do much.  Most of us can get by with what is in our pantries for just 72 hours.

But what if it is longer?

A good target would be a month.

There are many ways to go, but cover some big bases first.  Look for 20lb buckets of oats.  That will provide healthy breakfasts for a small family for a few weeks.  Start with a weeks worth, then two, then a month.  Beyond that, it is up to you.  An easy way to do this is to pick up the following mix of products…

– You can get 120 meals all set in a long term storage box for $280.  This will get a small family set up for a couple weeks.  Of course, the food is not great and this will not do as a sole source.  But it’s a good place to start.

– Pick up a 5 gallon bucket (about 20 lbs) of rolled oats.  You can find this at Costco and many other places.

– Look for the same 5 gallon bucket of rice (about 40lbs).

– Getting set up with various grains and yeast for bread making is a good idea too.  You’ll find all kinds of bread making kits at places like BePrepared.com, preparewise.com and others.

The goal here is to get a few big necessities that will carry you through the first 2-4 weeks.  As you move out beyond 4 weeks, the likelihood of such an event decreases and you need to decide how far you’d like to go.  (That’s just my opinion – think for yourself!)

Step 4:  Make a Getaway Plan

What would happen if the big boy went off in Washington DC and you lived 20 miles outside of town?  What would you do?

Well, assuming the EMP didn’t take out your vehicle, you’d want to get away.  (The EMP deal is for another discussion, another day.)

There are two things in play here.  First, you need a communication plan for your family.  Decide ahead of time where you will meet your wife, who will get the kids from school, how long to give each task, etc.  Second, you’ll need a place to go.

For the former, find out what the emergency lock down procedures are for your kids school.  Depending on the emergency, you may not be able to get your child out!  Think about that for a minute.  Decide on a place to meet (this might be home) and provide a timeline.

For the latter, talk to a trusted friend or relative about a bug out location.  For example, if you are in DC and you have a relative in Charlottesville, that might make a good destination, since you can get there on one tank of gas.  We’re not talking about living in the woods here, just a place to go if something terrible happens in your local geography.  (We’ll cover living in the woods another day.)

Step 5:  Personal Defense

It is always a good idea to be proficient in firearms handling.  You never know when it could save your life!  Remember Katrina?  There were roving gangs of hoodlums looting and pillaging house to house.  Visit the NRA.org or your local shooting range.  Learn how to safely handle a revolver, semi-automatic handgun, rifle and/or shotgun.  Learn it, then make an informed decision on what you think best fits your needs.  There is a ton of information right here on ToBeRIGHT about concealed carry, choosing a gun for women, even concealed carry handbags.

Lastly, there are odds and ends.  Do you have a pet?  If you do, make sure you have food and water for him too.  There are all kinds of other little things too…  Batteries, hand cranked radio, 2-way radios, and on and on.

Get these five basic steps taken care of and you’ll be better prepared than the vast majority of people.

The key is to start slow, plan for a few days, then a week and then a few weeks.

Work through these three steps and in no time, you’ll be a regular guy with a solid plan.  Start today, because disasters are not typically planned…


  1. Good bit – but still a bit much for the ‘average Joe’ to start with. Especially someone just starting to prepare like the ‘Urban Average Joe’ whose idea of roughing it is camping in the back yard – within range of the bathroom so he can still poop in the house.

    For ‘those’ folks (you know who you are) as well as anyone else trying to make a go of it, I suggest this: Start with what you have. Start small and only store what you normally eat! Don’t experiment with food when it comes to emergency pantry. Last thing you want to do is stock up on something you or your family cannot stomach.
    Most homes already have about weeks worth of food in their cupboards and fridge. The simplest most economical way to start a short – then long term pantry, is at the store when you buy groceries. Again, get what you normally get – just buy more this time. Instead of one soup, one juice bottle – get two. This will start your short term pantry and it will be stocked in no time using this method. More importantly – without breaking the bank. Just remember – baby steps, a little at a time.

    Now make sure you have enough water. You probably already have clear juice containers in your fridge and will probably buy more when they empty. Don’t throw them away! Wash them thoroughly and use them for short term water storage. The average household (parents with 2.5 kids) goes through 2-4 gallon type juice, gatorade or whatever’s popular these days, every week. In one month you will have enough containers to cover 1gallon for each person – per day – for more than a week. Keep going until you have 14 days worth. This should be the target of a short term pantry – enough food, water and supplies (don’t forget things like TP, hygiene and meds!) to last two weeks which is longer than your usual natural emergency.
    A word about water – it is not as clean as you might think! Take it from someone who holds a degree in microbiology – “theres some beasties in that there water you be drinkin!” If you are getting water from a municipal water source, be prepared to rotate it every few months – no more than 6. Yes, it ‘could’ last a year or more – but this is municipal water we are talking about. ‘Government run – publicly operated’ water treatment and plumbing. (just the phrase “Government run” should be enough here to give you pause) Are you willing to chance this with your family? This is where smaller containers come in real handy. Easy to fill and rotate stock. Remember too – water is heavy! if you have to bug out you are not likely to haul a 30 – 55 gallon water barrel with you. Until you are ready (really ready) to start your long term storage – 6months + – keep your totes small enough to handle yourself if you do have to bail from your location. Most 5 – 15 gallon totes are stackable and can be moved to a car if/when necessary.
    Longer term storage in larger containers like 5 – 15 gallon water totes; or 30 – 55 gallon barrels should be cleaned super well before filling and then use only the cleanest purified or at least distilled water you can find. The last thing you want is to tap into this after SHTF and find your water supply has gone funky because bacteria got in there and was left to grow! Bleach and baking soda are your friends here. (read up on ratios to use)
    If you don’t have a filter get one. It doesn’t have to be an RO (reverse osmosis) but if you can swing it, do. This is probably the best available. However, in a grid down situation you may not have enough water pressure (or any) to properly use a filter like this. There are plenty of gravity fed filters out there (Berkey filters are the most popular) and they are not as expensive as an RO. Also, if you are really pinching pennies these days – you can make one yourself. However you go – just make sure you have ‘cleaned’ your water and containers of anything that can grow while stored. If you are not sure how much you should filter/purify your water – buy a water test kit.

    Remember start small but be consistent. Take a week or two and ‘really’ look and what you and your family go through. Write it down! Then two weeks; three – by the time you reach a month you should know EXACTLY what your family uses daily, how much that costs per week and how much you need to stock for 14 days. Don’t start on longer term storage until you’ve reached this goal. It’s very easy to get side tracked here with all the advice and websites out there. In the end only you know what your family needs are and what you can afford. Plan accordingly.

  2. Thanks, Grayson – excellent advice!
    Particularly about water. For an average guy, a few 5 gallon carboys and a couple cases of bottled water may be plenty for most natural emergencies. And it is easy to transport some of it if need be…

  3. Tim Slack says:

    Hey if you are ever looking for a radio for a potential survival situation check out Bearcom http://www.bearcom.com/

    Good luck

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