Framework for Prepping

I’ve always loved survival stories. It’s fun to see how people face adversity.

Then I started prepping, and, just like that, I was overwhelmed. Each expert, class, or book had great advice for making things work under this circumstance or that. There were ideas on how to run away if necessary, and how to build a compound to run to. It was all very authoritative, and intense.

As a suburban mom of preschoolers, I was more than a little intimidated.

I looked for a unifying framework. Prepare by scenario? Focus on the immediate crisis or the aftermath? How long will the aftermath last – forever? How will I learn all those survival skills?

Then, yesterday, I watched a video on YouTube by Dr. Emily Schoerning of American Resiliency. Her message is: be alert for challenges and opportunities, then let’s get ready!

She suggests three levels of preparedness: three days, three weeks, and three months.

First, get ready to be stuck at home, without help from the grid, for three days. It’s easy to imagine and we probably already have most of the stuff we’ll need. Have extra water, food, baby formula, diapers, flashlights, etc. on hand.

Then think about getting by for three weeks. This takes a bit more forethought. A longer food list, more first-aid supplies, more awareness of what’s most likely to happen in the local neighborhood, city, or region. Create go bags that will be useful whether bugging in or out.

Finally, three months (and longer). At this point, it isn’t about rugged individualism anymore. It’s about surviving as a community. The question is, have you found or built a community ahead of time? How will you contribute to the well-being of your fellow survivors? Preparation at this level is, yes, about having a water source, food, and supplies. It’s also about knowing how to work with folks, playing to your strengths, and supporting theirs. If you’ve already worked with these folks before, all the better.

This is the best strategy I’ve found for organizing my approach to getting ready.

Do you have a framework that really works for you? How do you organize your thoughts around preparing?


  • Comments (3)

    • 2

      “Then I started prepping, and, just like that, I was overwhelmed.”

      Preparing for emergencies doesn’t need to be an overwhelming experience. The best part of this video is the encouragement to be gentle with yourself, while taking basic steps to be better prepared. You can find a list of such steps in our beginner guide.


      “She suggests three levels of preparedness: three days, three weeks, and three months.”

      This is a good breakdown for shelter-in-place situations. And I would consider three weeks of supplies to be unusually well prepared, so give yourself plenty of time to get there if you’re aiming for three months.

      Evacuation is a separate topic. It’s good to have plans for where you can go, what to bring, and how to get there. Ideally you would have a pre-packed bag so you can leave quickly if necessary. Doesn’t need to be crazy! Where to go could be a hotel. What to bring could be a wallet and a change of clothes. How to get there could be a car with a full tank of gas.

      When starting out, as this video emphasizes, it’s best to prepare in general ways. As a more advanced step, there is value in preparing for specific scenarios that are particularly likely in your area. Here in Florida, that includes hurricanes and heat waves.

      For all of this, be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to take one small step at a time. It’s okay to have just one more day of supplies than you had last month. It’s okay to have a slightly better evacuation plan than you had last year. It’s okay to ask a neighbor for help, and even better to offer help to someone else. And you have a community here that can help if you have any questions.

    • 3

      Years ago I heard in a podcast (sorry I don’t remember the name!) that you should prepare for when things go wrong, but also for when things go right. I believe the example given was to not spend all your retirement savings stocking up on ammo, but the advice extends to other non extreme situations.

      I think it means balance your life, and don’t let prepping take over. My daughter wanted to take archery lessons and I quickly signed her up, but she also wants to learn to play golf, so I signed her up for that too.

      As another suburban mom, I also have to assess what will work for me and my family and what won’t. We will never have a fully self sufficient homestead. I assess what disasters we’re likely to face – power outages, extreme heat and cold, tornadoes, wildfires, supply shortages – and how to minimize if not fully mitigate them. With my preps I can live more comfortably and if there’s a disaster I can wait patiently for services to be restored.

    • 3

      This is why a lot of professional emergency planners (yes, there are professional emergency planners) refer to pre bang and post bang. Essentially they are breaking a disaster response down into two parts, resilience and recovery. 
      You can plan your resistance to a disaster event in detail but a recovery plan needs to be more flexible as it is a response to something or a series of events that are by their very nature unpredictable.

      Being part of a close established community is a major advantage, a range of skills that compliment each other. People that can care for you when you’re sick or injured (as you can help them in their time of need)

      Without community survival quickly becomes a zero sum game. Hit zero and you’re dead. Community and co-operation are key to long term recovery and survival.