In the urban prepper articles there has been mention of novice or new preppers several times, but how can you become a novice prepper if you don’t know where to start?
The beginning stages of becoming a prepper may seem overwhelming especially if you’re getting all kinds of advice, some of it even conflicting, as you consider taking this journey. There certainly is a lot of information out there: books, newspaper/magazine articles, websites, YouTube, and even television shows, but do you really have the time and money for all of it? Of course you don’t.
If you choose to peruse all this information or even some of it you should take it with a grain of salt; yes even the urban prepper. Not all the information that is out there will fit your needs. Everyone’s situation is different.
Another thing to consider is that 95% of the information available is tailor-made for people who live in the wilderness or a suburb. If you are reading these articles it’s a good guess that you probably live in the inner city. The needs of a prepper in an urban environment are different than those that opt to live elsewhere.
Prepping is an individual lifestyle plan. Although it may seem like all preppers prep for the same reason they don’t.
Sure there are preppers who are very serious about preparing for the end of the world to the extent that they have moved out into the wilderness and built bunkers full of weapons as well as storing enough food to last 20 years.
A couple of the wilderness preppers will even tell you that in order to be a true prepper you need to move out in the middle of nowhere and connect with your inner Grizzly Adams.
There are some people who prep because it’s ingrained in their culture; it’s something that they’ve always done and now may be taking it more seriously. Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and the Amish have always stored or stocked up on food as part of their lifestyle. The Mormons even have a website dedicated to prepping: www.lds.org/topics/emergency-preparedness.
Other people see the direction this world is going and they want to be prepared for any situation that may occur in their lives. They do believe that something catastrophic is going to happen, but they just don’t know when.
Then you have others who just want to simplify their lives and be in control over it. Perhaps they’re unhappy with all the restrictions that are placed on them by the government, hate war and want to be less dependent on big business or the government. They may even have become preppers because they enjoy a simpler type of lifestyle.
Whatever reason you have decided to start prepping is your reason and you don’t need to justify it or follow the pack.
One of the first things you should do is erase your overall pre-conceived notion of what a pepper isn’t. They are not anti-war (although some may be) or anti-social (again you’ll encounter some of those or maybe not since they’re anti-social). The only thing that almost every prepper has in common is that they are anti-dependent and that’s not such a bad place to be.
The urban prepper has covered tools that every prepper should have and these are tools that you’ll need around the house to fix things or to use along with any skill you learned. There are other tools that a prepper needs and won’t cost any money or need extra space.
One important tool you have as you start out is your mind. You have to know who you are and what you want or don’t want in your life. You have to decide how badly you want to rely on the government or others in power. These groups of people have made sure you accepted the fact that you can’t take care of yourself or your family without assistance and so much so it’s become a part of society’s fabric.
Once you adopt that attitude you also are agreeing to give up some of your rights as well as your freedom which isn’t what a prepper does. How badly do you want to claim your independence?
Adopt an I-can-do attitude, write down some daily affirmations on having a positive mental attitude if you must and claim your life back by using the prepper motto, “Ready for anything.”
So are you ready? Let’s look at 10 steps a person can take to become a prepper; an independent soul.
1. Make a list and check it twice.
Preppers love making lists. It’s actually a good idea because it helps you become better organized and less likely to leave anything out.
Keeping a list also will keep you focused making you less likely to buy into all the propaganda and hype surrounding the prepper lifestyle; that you’ll be less likely to do everything because of all the information that is going to be thrown at you through articles and images telling you what you have to do.
As you start making lists keep them in a safe place (i.e. not on an electronic device such as a cell phone or computer or a flash drive.) Keep a pad and pen ready. Make your lists on that.
The reason for this is it’s easier to carry the pad with you and jot things down as you think of them. Another good reason is that you’re not going to be able to depend on electronic devices and tools so you should start getting used to it now.
The first list to make is what will be called needs versus wants. Sometimes people get these two confused because too often they believe something that’s a need is actually a want. Do you need cable TV with 280 channels? No you want it, but you’re not going to die if you don’t have it regardless to how well the Eagles are doing this year.
Basically a need is something you have to have in order to sustain your life (food, water, shelter) and a want is something you don’t have to have, but you do enjoy having it.
For your very first list you’ll sort out what you want and need now. Don’t make the list based on what your life will be like after an emergency.
Make each list on a separate piece of paper. List your possible needs and how much you spend: Food, clothing, shelter, water, money, utilities, gas, car repair and insurance, and pets. You can add more if you want, but this is something to start with.
Next list your wants: Gym membership, nail/beauty salon trips, computer, internet/cable, central air/central heat, cell phone, eating out or ordering take out, toys, ipad/MP3 player/ipod/tablet/video game systems, television, CDs/DVDs, junk food, and credit cards. Definitely don’t be afraid to add onto this list.
Now compare both lists and see where you might be able to make cuts in order to save money. There are some wants that you don’t have to immediately get rid of, but perhaps you can downgrade such as instead of full car insurance just get liability only, get rid of your cell phone contract and go with a pay-as-you-go-plan, take a good hard look at your cable and how much you pay every month, and instead of going to the nail salon or beauty salon you can do it yourself. You can also reduce the number of times you go every month.
The point is that you have choices to make that will help you make the harder choices down the line. For many new preppers this first list can also be a real eye opener especially when they see where exactly their money is going.
These first lists are important because they will help you prepare for prepping and also help you begin to get out of debt which is what you’ll need to do before you experience a state of emergency.
2. There’s always room for one more.
One big difference between a prepper who lives in the wilderness and one who is in an urban environment is space.
Preppers who live out in the middle of nowhere have plenty of room to build more space. Urban preppers have to be more creative about it, but it’s possible to find more room than you thought you had. You just have to think strategically about it.
In addition when you have too much room as is the case with wilderness preppers you can lose your mind and accumulate more than what you need.
Ideally Philadelphia homes are great for urban preppers especially when so many of them have unfinished basements which are ideal for root cellars because often they are also not heated.
It’s okay if you live in an apartment because you’ll have room as well once you’ve finished looking at your needs versus wants in that apartment as well.
Regardless of whether you live in a house or an apartment, regardless of whether you own it or rent it the second step remains the same: you have to de-clutter. You’re going to have to let go of some of the things that you believe you need, but you don’t. These things are also not even wants, but more like a grown attachment.
Go open the drawer. You know what drawer. The one with the plastic ware from Wawa that has been there for five years along with the packets of sugar, taco sauce, take-out menus, soy sauce, ketchup, mustard and wet napkins you got from a trip to Popeyes. Take everything out and throw it away. You might want to keep stuff that may come in handy such as the wet napkins. You can also keep the take-out menus, but only the ones where you actually order food from.
Once you’re done doing that go through every closet, cabinet and space in your abode. Anything you haven’t used in three years should be donated to charity or sold at a flea market. Just don’t throw out any containers or jars with lids, newspapers, foil, old manual tools, old curtains or sheets and matches or lighters. Those things you will need.
For more information on how to maximize your space please go to the urban prepper articles on ventwing.com: ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-homesteading-the-asphalt-jungle.
3. Is too much ever enough?
You don’t have to be a new prepper to make this mistake because a lot of preppers make this one: not having enough supplies to last you. Some websites tell preppers that they should have enough to last a year, but that’s not enough.
All seasoned preppers say that at the very least you should have a five year supply of food, but many of them have 20 or more years of food supplies.
This is where problems sometimes start.
It’s a very thin line between prepping for an emergency and hoarding. This isn’t just a problem for new preppers, but experienced preppers are sometimes guilty of the same thing.
It’s a waste of time and money if you store foods that you don’t even like. Think about your eating habits or even possibly food allergies. You’re not going to want to eat food that you don’ like or are allergic to. Use your time storing food wisely and make the right choices.
One skill that you’ll probably need to learn is how to can food. Canning is not something you do only when you have to unless you grew up helping your mother or grandmother can fruits and vegetables at the end of the summer.
Take the time to learn how to can properly. If you don’t you may wind up with no food or food that has bacteria in it and has grown moldy.
For more information on canning please read: ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-canning. For information on what you’ll need for a basic food supply please read: ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-basic-food-supply.
The one thing that you must not do is create a supply of stored food and then forget about it. You must eat what you’ve stored and then replace it. This will serve three purposes. The first one is that you’ll eat what you stored and if there’s something you don’t like you’ll know not to have a huge supply of it. The second is that you’ll get into a routine of relying on your food supply and not running out to a convenience store. The third is by replenishing you supply it’s almost a guarantee that once an emergency hits you won’t have stored food that’s gone bad.
4. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.
For new preppers it’s hard to decide what preparation comes first, but it should be water. There are two reasons why: water will probably be your biggest necessity because you’ll need it for drinking, bathing, washing and for food prep. It’s also the easiest supply to get.
Many novice preppers believe that all you need to do is turn on the faucet and fill up a container. Sure you can do it right now, but what happens when an emergency hits and there is no water supply or the water is contaminated.
Something to consider don’t you think?
There’s certainly nothing wrong with storing water like that now, but you should really get into the habit of being able to store your water correctly.
You’ll need several different containers and they should be marked for use: cooking, bathing, drinking, etc. Any water used for your pets or for first aid purposes should be kept separate from your other water supplies so they don’t get mixed up.
In order to understand how much water you’ll need figure at least a gallon of water per day per person. So for example there are three people in your family. You would need three gallons of water per day. Multiply that by 365 and you’ll need 1,095 gallons a year and multiply that by five and you’ll need to have 5,475 gallons of water. Add more onto that number if you have pets. To be even better prepared it’s wiser to have three gallons per person per day.
You will also need to familiarize yourself with the process of water purification. For more information please go to: http://ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-water-purification-and….
5. Should we stay in or go out?
A common debate among preppers is whether or not you should bug out.
Bugging out, once a military term for moving quickly from one place to another, is a term preppers use to basically do the same thing, but unlike the military very few preppers have a jeep to carry all their to a safe location.
Many preppers use what is called a bug out bag or a survival pack which is nothing more than a backpack filled with supplies they’ll need such food, clothing, etc. Of course you’ll always have a few professional preppers that have all kinds of gear that they have packed and ready to go.
If you’re going to bug out you’ll need to have a backpack ready to go. For more information on bug out bags please read: ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-survival-packs.
There are some things that you may ask yourself before you make the decision to bug out once an emergency hits.
Do you have to bug out? No, buts that’s a personal decision. However there are times where you’ll need to bug out like your apartment building is unstable or a flood similar to Hurricane Katrina is headed straight for your home.
For these occasions you should have a bug out bag prepared for you and each member of your family even the pets.
Can I buy a bug out bag? Sure you can, but why would you? The point of being a prepper is being self-sufficient, right? Then why would you be dependent on someone else to sell you something you can make? Besides these bags can range up to a couple hundred dollars and may not have what you’ll need personally. You can reuse some of the stuff you found in your closets at home such as back packs and camping gear.
Should I have a place to bug out to? That might be a good idea, but also consider that the place you select may not be there when you arrive or that you’ll be unable to get there. If you do your due diligence and prep your home for an emergency you won’t need to go anywhere unless you absolutely have to.
Another thing to consider is if you live in an urban environment where will you go? If your city sets up emergency shelters be aware that they don’t accept animals, may be overcrowded or you can’t reach it. Also consider that once your home is vacant it will also be targets for looters.
It’s also not a smart thing to do is grab your bag and head into Fairmount Park in Philly if you’ve never gone camping before. It’s not as easy as it looks in the movies and being in a park or forest after dark also has its dangers especially if you’re inexperienced.
For more about the pros and cons of bugging out please read: ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-bug-or-bug-out-that-s-the-que….
6. What’s the plan Stan?
Preppers are experts at planning. The ones who have been prepping for awhile have it down to a science. Plans are important to have because there will a less likely chance that something will catch you off guard.
A plan is especially critical if you have a family. Everyone will need to know what to do before an emergency hits.
If you have young children establishing a plan as a family will decrease most of the fear and anxiety once an emergency comes because they will know exactly what to do.
It’s also important to explain the possibility of an emergency without making them afraid. If you have young children or special needs children you may even want to make a social story for them.
Every family should have two plans. One of those plans should be what everyone will do if an emergency hits and they’re not at home. Take into consideration that cell phones may not work at that time as they didn’t on 9/11.
Map out a route that everyone should take in order to get home safely or if you have decided on a place to meet make sure it’s a safe place and preferably a solid building structure like a church, school or hospital.
The second plan should what the family should actually do if they’re home when an emergency happens. If you don’t have a plan like this in place everyone will become afraid and unsure what to do.
Every member should be assigned a job to do like your teenager goes around and makes sure everything is unplugged and all points of entry are secure. Even the youngest child can have a job like rounding up the pets or keeping track of everything on the plan list is done.
The third plan is one that needs to be done ahead of time and as you’re prepping.
A safe place to stay in the house should be designated and all the supplies (food, water, bedding, clothes, etc.) should be stored there. This is when a very large unfinished basement comes in handy. If you live in an apartment it should be a room in the back if yu have one.
7. Home, home on the range.
Regardless to whether you live in the wilderness, an apartment or a house your home is an extension of you. It’s where you raise your children, celebrate holidays, experience joy and sadness, and put money in to make it comfortable.
When you consider all of this it’s no surprise that many people refuse to leave their home when an emergency hits or one is pending.
Regardless of whether you plan to bug out or bug in home security is also an important first step for any prepper; that by prepping your home will either keep you safe or it will be waiting for you when you get back.
This is where another list comes in.
Go throughout your home and look for weaknesses. You may even want to think like a criminal to do this, but usually the weakest points of any house are ground floor windows, skylights, and doors.
When someone is trying to break into your home to rob it this is where they gain access so it only goes that if someone is trying to come through your house when things have collapsed this is where they’ll try to make entry at.
Finally there really is some good news about Philadelphia. If you live in an apartment on an upper floor there is really only one entry point and that’s the front door. If you live in a basement apartment you’ll still have the door, but most apartment buildings that have basement apartments usually have security gates on the windows or some other type of security measure.
If you own or rent a home in Philadelphia you have a couple of entry points, but they’re more manageable than if you live in the wilderness where the possible points are endless.
In most home invasion/robbery crimes the perp-to-be will enter from either a basement window or the backdoor. The ones who get through in other ways is usually due to resident neglect; they didn’t lock a window, install a window air conditioner properly or failed to lock their front door.
Once you have targeted the weaknesses in your abode you need to spend time reinforcing them. You’ll also need to take other measures to secure the property such as boarding up all windows, trimming hedges, and establishing some kind of an alarm system to let you know when someone has entered your area such as a cow bell on your front gate.
A large breed dog is probably one of the best home security measures you can take and they can also serve as an alarm system.
The best type of home security you can have is the ability to not tell people what you’re doing or what you have.
In Philly neighbors are notorious for watching everyone from a bedroom window so there won’t be too much you can do if they see a generator being delivered. Unfortunately the person who is watching is usually the neighborhood gossip so it won’t take long for everyone to know what you have.
So don’t brag about what you have, don’t make a video and post it on YouTube, and don’t put up a fan page on Facebook to let everyone know how conscious you are about survival.
For more information on home security please read the following urban prepper articles: http://ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-home-security, http://ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-safeguarding-your-home… and http://ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-safeguarding-your-home….
8. Debt: The gift that keeps on giving.
These days you’d be hard pressed not to find anyone without debt. Some people are pretty frugal and may carry nothing than a mortgage, student loan or car note. They may even have all three, but then you have a lot of other people who never met a debt they didn’t like.
Not only do they have the three listed above, but also several credit cards. Regardless of whether the type of debt you have is considered to be good or bad really won’t matter especially if the emergency is an economic collapse.
Once the government or the banking industry begins to recover from the collapse they’ll also need to recover some of their losses and they’ll recover it by coming after you.
It may not matter if your credit cards or other debts are up-to-date. They can cancel the loan/card at any time and expect payment for anything that you owe. Or, as Bill Cosby’s character Heathcliff Huxtable says, “They come for the regular people first.”
So as long as you’re changing your entire lifestyle also try to eliminate as much of your debt as you can, but it might be smarter to get rid of the bad debt (credit cards) first.
You also have to understand that the prepper lifestyle is all about independence and self-sufficiency, but using credit cards or owing money to these companies is neither self-sufficient or independent.
For more information on getting yourself out of debt please read the urban prepper article on debt: ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-the-first-thing-every-prepper….
9. You are here.
Another one of the things that all people who are beginning to prep should do is a threat assessment.
That’s when you think about what the most likely scenario is that could affect you. For instance if you live in Florida, New Orleans or even recently New Jersey then the threats would most likely be through natural disasters such a hurricanes, flooding or even a tsunami.
Nearly everyone when they were first beginning to prep prepared for everything and the problem with that is you can’t totally prepare for everything because something is going to be missed.
You as an urban prepper don’t have the space for everything that could happen. Lack of space in this instance works in your favor.
You really should know the area that you live in and what the threats may be. Due to the recent peeing contest between the Republicans and Democrats that caused a shutdown every state could suffer from an economic collapse so at least you can put that one as a definite.
If you’ve just moved to the area or aren’t sure about possible threats you can easily find out the possibilities by going on your state’s website to see what could happen only because it frequently happens.
People in Philly like to say that nothing ever happens here and that may be true if you’re talking about the weather. Residents will tell you that any real threat in this city will come from either the politicians or the unions.
Seriously all that may be true, but there are several other threats that urban dwellers need to consider as something that is more likely to happen than anything else.
The criminal elite really know how to survive especially in Philadelphia.
If you live in a big city that has a gang problem, high crime or suspected terrorist activity then you need to put these on the top of your list as possibilities.
If you live in Camden, New Jersey, Philadelphia or Detroit, Michigan you will also need to consider the poverty levels. In Camden and Philly it’s 25%. In Detroit it’s over 35%.
The poverty level is something everyone needs to consider because the national level is 15% and a state of emergency can take a city like Philly from dangerous to really dangerous.
This is a city where people who don’t have a job or money will rob someone just so they can buy gifts for Christmas.
While you’re doing your assessment you might even want to go online to visit your city’s website to see what they’re prepared for. In Philadelphia the website is: oem.readyphiladelphia.org.
Lastly if an emergency like a hurricane or tornado is coming directly towards you you don’t wait until they tell you to evacuate because often it’s almost too late.
When you understand the threat just get in your car and leave. In other words grab your gear and bug out.
10. Is there a doctor in the house?
The last of the first things you need to do is to put together first aid supplies and this will include any prescriptions that you’re on. First aid supplies along with shelter, food and water should be the very first things you prep for.
There are some preppers who will tell you to put aside some of your medication each month so once an emergency hits you’ll have enough to hold you. The only problem with that is a. you don’t know when an emergency is going to hit and b. most medications have an expiration date.
However there are a couple of things you can do. If there is a diet or exercise program that you can be on that your doctor has been saying will help whatever your afflictions are then start doing that now.
If it has been suggested to you about having surgery you should also do that now. The point here is try to get yourself and your family as healthy as possible before an emergency hits.
If that’s not possible start looking into and storing natural remedies. There isn’t any actual medical proof that these should be taken in place of prescription meds, but every little bit helps.
For more information about natural remedies please read the urban prepper’s article on them: http://ventwing.com/article/the-urban-prepper-natural-remedies.
Lastly having a good amount of first aid supplies is very important. Forget about those cute little boxes that you see being sold in stores and remember that you have to be prepared for anything.
The more people you have living under your roof and depending on you the more supplies you’ll need. Hope for the best (hospitals and doctor’s offices will be able to remain open) and prepare for the worst (you’re on your own buddy).
It will also be extremely important for you to learn CPR. Attend a class at the local Red Cross and get certified. Then renew your certification every two years.
Once the smoke from the emergency starts to clear and people try to figure out what to do next being certified in CPR may be a marketable skill especially if there is no access to medical care.