Not Sure What to Do Next

I’ve been reading theprepared for a while and was fortunate enough to find the website before the pandemic. I was putting my finishing touches on my go-bags in Janurary once I started hearing about what was going on in China and this website, I felt, gave me a “healthy” level of paranoia.

One challenge I’m having now is to not spiral, and keep on getting more and more equipment until I build myself a bunker. It’s hard.

I feel like I’ve got a really good base of preparedness, so I would just like to list that out and get any feedback/input on areas to improve. And maybe ask the question – what should I consider next?

We are a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 kids under 3 years old) in a large metro area in the midwest. Thankfully we have family that live in rural areas and are just a few hours away by car, if it ever got that far. But so far, it hasn’t. Here’s what I’ve put together, in terms of preparedness:

– 2 “Level 3” go-bags, as detailed from this site, stored in the closet by the front door

– whole-house generator that can run on propane or gas, with enough fuel for 1 week

– 4 weeks of shelf-stable food and 72 gallons of stored water

– 12 month emergency fund in cash

– home medical supplies, as recommended by this site

– “get home bags” in each car, separate from the Level 3 bags above

– getting solar panels installed next month that can run all electric needs for our house in the summer months

When I write it all down it seems like a lot, but I still have anxiety that it’s not enough. Welcome to 2020, I guess.  Do I just need to chill? Repeat the sane prepper mantra over and over again? 🙂


  • Comments (15)

    • 12

      Wow! Those are some great accomplishments. A few thoughts come to mind.

      – You could probably use some more water for a family of your size. While I have not purchased one of these (yet), I’ve seen positive reviews: https://waterprepared.com/ If you have the space to store one unobtrusively, it might be worth a look.

      While you seem to have the “stuff” covered, you might want to focus less on the hardware and more on the software. What I mean by that is that you might think about developing some new skills.

      – In my opinion, gardening is a great skill to develop. It can be done on the cheap, and it is quite relaxing (a great antidote to 2020 depression). MI Gardener is extremely knowledgeable: https://www.youtube.com/MIgardener

      – Canning is a good skill to pair with that. It does take a little more money to start, but if you have your garden producing, it is a great way to avoid waste.

      Personally, I find skill development a lot more rewarding than developing analysis paralysis looking at 1,329 different options for BOBs.

    • 7

      If you have your basline preperations established, consider working with your gear and supplies. Walk with your bags to see how they feel. Or, practice using the gear (ex. apply tournique one-handed). Eat some of your emergency rations to ensure they work with your digestive system. 

      Also, consider refining your plans (ex. scout out different routes from work to home or develop/refine your bug-out criteria). As you work with your gear and planning, you will be able to fine-tune your preparations.

    • 7

      It sounds like youve already done a lot, I agree with comments from the others.  Some additional thoughts:

      • You mention family a couple hours away, depending on your relationships with them if thats your backup/bugout site you might consider working with them towards having some extra supplies in the event you do have to leave.  You could start small and see how they react to the topic.  You’d want to be considerate of their needs/your imposition on them obviously.  Basicaly if your home is as well equpied as it can be short of going full-bunker, how is your backup site (i.e. egg to basket ratio)?
      • You could try reaching out to trusted friends and neighbors, perhaps not haing the full talk but just exploring who is likeminded and where they sit and ask leading questions like ‘have you ever thought about X, Y, or Z?
      • To your comment: “One challenge I’m having now is to not spiral” this is a bit more philosophical – and I don’t want to tell you not to worry or that you’re over reacting, but lately I’ve been trying to frame what is going on in the world.  Is this a truly novel confluence of events, or is this just a rare confluence that happens for a bouple years once every generation or so?
      • 9

        @Rich DC mentions a good point that I completely overlooked. Have you talked with your rurally located family members? Do they know they are your Plan B?

        I could see how you arriving for a week when a power outage hits would probably be fine without much advance planning.

        However, if you’re thinking of something longer term, they need to agree to that. They’d probably be much more willing to host you if you spend some time with them working on a garden or repairing fences or something now as opposed waiting.

        Better to build that social capital now.

    • 6

      I don’t have a solid addition for you, but I wanted to echo everyone else by assuring you that you’ve done plenty more than most people. 👍

      • 8

        Thanks everyone for your replies.

        I really do like the idea of practicing with my gear. In fact, that’s what motivated me to finally take the ham radio exam – so that I would know how to use my radio if the time ever came. But I also need to practice with the other gear, too. I’ve never used the ZipBoil stove to make a meal, for example.

        I’ll also look into adding some more water here for my family.

        Good advice on making sure my rural family members are onboard with my bug out plans, and luckily they are!

        Thanks again.

    • 7

      Awesome job! Here’s what all I would consider:

      • More food
      • Do you have a local water source and a water filter?
      • Maybe consider getting your ham radio licenses if you haven’t already and set up a comms shack
      • Medical training, if you can get it
      • Put some spare electronics in a trash can to shield them from EMPs
      • Guns and ammo are hard to get, but consider other security needs: fencing, lights, pepper spray, etc.
    • 9

      Jay, this made my day! Kudos on the steps you’ve taken and I’m happy we’ve been a helpful part of that journey. 

      What you’re feeling is normal, especially these days. Yes, keep the sane prepper mantra in mind 🙂 I know it’s easier said than done… it’s hard to “turn off” the part of your brain that lead you to prep to begin with. But it’s important to reap the rewards of your work, one of which is enjoying the improved peace of mind that comes with being prepared. 

      Where you’re at now means you can handle the vast majority of potential situations. So it would not be negligent if, to help ease the anxiety, you took a break for a little while.

      If you think it’d be helpful to tell yourself you won’t think about prepping for the rest of the month, then do it! Or maybe that you won’t buy anything and instead put your energy into learning new things or turning around and helping other people (like in this forum!) I often find helping others is a good way to change mindset while also reflecting on what I should be grateful for, etc etc.

      Back to specific preps instead of mental health: 

      You’re at the point where most people start increasing their food stores. You have four weeks now… can you get to 8? 12? (We’re publishing some articles about food the next few days / week, if helpful.)

      Have you actually practiced with any of this gear? Do you know how to use your field knife, water filter, radio, tourniquet, compass, etc? We’ve only scratched the surface, but there are some great skills guides on this site. 

      What about physical health? If you’re not feeling great about that, perhaps a two-birds-one-stone is to get in some more exercise. It helps your prepping and usually helps with anxiety/depression/etc. You could go for increasingly-longer walks with your bug out bag, for example. 

    • 10

      Jay, I want to try something, so, bear with me?

      I want you to take a moment and re-read your post. And I want you to think about each of those things that you’ve listed. Think about what it took to get each one done. Think about how you’ve gotten all that together for yourself and your family. Take a moment to thank youself. I know it’s hoaky af, but give it a try.

      And this little gesture of thanking yourself is something important. This isn’t some prideful, boastful, pat-yourself-on-the-back and call it mission accomplished. I really think it’s important that you acknowledge what you’ve gotten done so far.

      Now, everyone who has already posted has given you some really great advice, and I’d like to contribute in a slightly different (yet still important) way:

      1). Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t think of x, y, or z. (Hell, I still haven’t gotten around to learning about canning but it’s on my longer term list).

      2). Prioritize. Read through these comments again prioritize your 4 basics: air, shelter, water, food; bolster your readiness based on those things.

      3). Pace yourself (physically, psychologically, financially, and chronologically) as best you can, or at least as the situation dictates.

      Everyone has thoughts about the kinds of scenarios they want to be prepared for, or how soon they should be prepared. I happen to be one of those that currently has that not-so-settled feeling about the coming months. (Not trying to detract from your post or accomplishments, just want to acknowledge something that may come into play for you, too, Jay). That said, when the time comes, that’s all you’ve got. And what you have is what you have. Even then, there may just be a situation where you have to give up a lot of it. At least the shit you can’t carry or bugout with. So, think about that, okay? Pace yourself.

      4). Breathe. Don’t forget to do it, especially when you feel that overwhelming sense of urgency. Take a moment, find some quiet, think. MAKE yourself take the time.

    • 6

      I agree with many of the comments to the effect of 1. you should breath a little easier due to what you’ve already accomplished, and 2. the next priorities are probably skills. 

      When you get the solar panels installed, is it possible you can get a battery (such as tesla powerwall or equivalent) incorporated in the system? Without it, although your solar panels will still help fight climate change, they won’t be much use if the grid goes down. 

    • 6

      What are the likely scenaarios for which you are preparing?  That will help you determine your readiness.

      You are in better shape than most….

    • 7

      Love all the responses you received and I agree with them. You’ve done so much but I think I know what you’re feeling.

      For me it’s like excess energy that I convince myself I could be using toward more preps, but that can spiral pretty quick. So I’ve been trying new little fitness things to get in better shape since I know I’ll do less of it once it’s cold outside. And I sleep better too 😴

    • 9

      I’m going to echo and double down on something John mentioned, and suggest focusing energy on your own physical conditioning. Getting in good physical shape is perhaps the one “prepper” thing we can all do that is gauranteed to pay off in the future, no matter what happens. Plus, exercise is not only good for your body but also your emotional and mental health, and I know we are all feeling extra stressed out these days. Plus plus, it doesn’t have to cost you much money. Jogging/power-walking and core-strength exercises can be done with no equipment.

      If you need motivation to get into a serious exercise routine, consider the possible senario in which you, on foot, are carrying a heavy backpack and one or both of your children to your bug out location.  And even if something like that doesn’t happen, being in good shape will benefit just about every aspect of your life. You really can’t go wrong!

      • 7

        Mark Rippetoe: “Stronger people are more useful in general, and harder to kill.”

    • 5

      You didn’t mention personal security items… you have lots of options.  Pick a few.

      Get a one year supply of food together on the cheap that you will hopefully never use.  Maybe start with a dozen 5 gallon buckets of rice in mylar bags with an oxygen absorber (about 30 to 33 lbs each), a dozen 5 gallon buckets of various beans (about 22 to 25 lbs each).  Those two together form very complete nutrition and last 30 years or so if stored in your home.  Then I would go with maybe 50 lbs of sugar and 50 lbs of iodized salt.  Sugar lasts indefinitely and the salt will yellow over time but still be good.  Then 15 or 20 gallons of peanut oil which will keep for 3 to 5 years or longer and add a significant caloric boost.  Then a 1/2 dozen bottles of 200 count multivitamins… which will still be 90% effective even after a decade of storage.  Lots of seasonings like powdered chicken and beef flavor to make these things more palatable.  For more variety add dried pasta with sauce in glass jars, dry powdered milk, etc.  But you can put back a one year emergency supply of food for surprisingly little.

      Buy twelve to twenty-four 55 gallon plastic drums for a 6 month to one year supply of emergency water.  Used around 20 each, new around 100 eack.

      I believe you could do all of this for around 1000 dollars (a years worth of emergency food and water for a family of four).  We buy home insurance.  We buy car insurance.  But this might be the best insurance that you could ever buy.