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What are some good preps that don’t require you to buy something?

Some things I can think of are fitness, knowing how to cook, being able to do maintenance,…

Thought if I had a good list of preps that I can do for free, that I’ll have no excuse to keep prepping even when money is tight.

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  • Comments (47)

    • 9

      A free prep that may actually have to be used in your lifetime is an insurance claim. Documenting all your valuables ahead of time can make the insurance process less stressful, and help make yourself whole as much as possible from burglaries and other natural disasters. 

      At minimum take a video with your phone while walking through the house and pointing at things as you read out the make, model, and serial number. Then store that video in the cloud.

      The next level up would be storing multiple high quality pictures, receipts, and more of all those items. 

      The initial process takes quite a bit of time and work to go through everything and figure out a system that works for you. (be as detailed as possible) But once you have all your existing items down, it is easy as you add more. Before I unbox a new electronic or something of value that I just purchased, I take pictures of the receipt, box, serial number, and product at different levels of unboxing, and from different angles. I then upload all that to the cloud that syncs to my computer. 

      This works for me, and gives me great peace of mind that if my computer is stolen someday, I know exactly the make, model, serial number (for police report), multiple pictures, when I bought it, and more.

      • 3

        This is something that I really need to do. I would sure be in trouble if my house got burgled, I have no idea what size TV I have, or the make or model. I just use it.

        Thanks for the tip!

    • 6

      Oooh. Nice topic.

      How about getting to know one’s neighbors?

      • 3

        That is a great one! Growing up my family knew all our neighbors. We would go out Christmas caroling with them, borrow a cup of sugar from them, and do all sorts of things.

        Now, I don’t know a single of my neighbor’s names or anything about them. I only have myself to blame though. Definitely should be something I should do.

      • 3

        Sorry for the pessimism… but did you know that most burglaries are committed by someone that was previously invited into the home?  So maybe get to know your neighbors on neutral grounds and dont discuss personal possessions.  Just because they are your neighbor and they seem really nice doesn’t mean they aren’t a serial killer, though I suppose that is statistically unlikely.

      • 6

        Sounds like a great reason to meet those neighbors during the pandemic, when you have a great excuse not to invite anyone inside! 😉

      • 1

        Creative thinking there! haha

      • 3

        I definitely wouldn’t take most of my neighbors in and show them all my preps or tell them I have guns. That is just not good security.

        I hope that one day I can have a neighbor with similar interests that I can trust and involve in my prepping circle. But I would like to friendly at least to be able to ask for a ride to the hospital if I needed to in an emergency.

      • 3

        I wouldn’t invite someone whom I don’t know well into my home. Just talking with people outside and getting to know them without discussing preps is a pretty good idea, though, in my opinion.

      • 4

        A subtle way to maybe see if they are like minded preppers is to say you like camping or hiking. Then the conversation may steer it’s way to prepping. Then in time, they may become close enough friends to be able to invite in to see your BOB and such.

        I don’t know anyone around me that is into prepping though, so i’m glad I have this forum to throw ideas around and talk to other preppers. 

      • 4

        Reminds me of a story about a man who picked up a hitchhiker and a few miles down the road, the hiker asked the driver “How do you know I’m not a serial killer?”  The driver looked at him and said, “What are the odds that two serial killers are in the same car.”

      • 1

        That’s super funny!!! haha

      • 1

        Depends on the neighbors.  Unfortunately I have one close to me that I wish wasn’t….  

    • 5

      Saving seeds from the garden at the close of each growing season is one of my favorites. It doesn’t work with hybrid varieties but heirloom ones work well.

      • 3

        I did that for the first time this year! It was really neat experience. I’m not sure if I did it right and if those seeds will germinate this next year, but we will see. 

        It’s interesting how different seeds have different saving procedures. Some just dry out and can be collected, and others like tomatoes (from what I remember) need to be fermented or something. 

        What are some of the seeds you have saved? What steps did you take to save them? How do you store seeds?

      • 3

        I have loads of heirloom seeds in the freezer.  I got about ten multi packs of them.  Most are pretty easy to save from your produce each year.  I’ve had great success with mellons, okra, peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc.  most just dried out and put in ziploc bags for the freezer until the next season.  Frozen seeds keep for many years.  95% of the seeds you buy at stores are genetically modified to be sterile, forcing you to purchase more each season.  That’s pretty slimy of the big companies.

      • 3

        Great suggestions! I’ll have to freeze my seeds. 

    • 5

      https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/educationalmaterials.html

      Above is the Centers For Disease Control’s education stuff.  It’s no-cost.

      Much good stuff to read up on.  

      At the block “Cleanup and Returning Home”, take a glance at “Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters”.  Glance at “What To Wear Before Entering A Home Or Building With Mold…”.  At Food and Water Safety, at Guide – “Cooking For Groups: A Volunteers Guide” this is definitely useful since it involves more than self.

      Much more at link.

      • 3

        Wow! So much information! I know what I’m going to be doing my entire Christmas break now. This will take quite a while to read over all of these.

        Thanks for the good resources, i’ll be adding them to my flash drive of good prepping knowledge.

    • 5

      You mentioned this already, but fitness can never be overemphasized when it comes to prepping.  It is the one prep activity that is guaranteed to payoff, no matter what the future brings.  In the case of a disaster, you will likely need to be able to run, walk extreme distances, carry a load, climb a fence, manage with less food/water and sleep than you are accustomed to, fight off illness, and most definitely deal with high levels of stress.  The better physical condition you are in the better your chances of dealing with these challenges successfully.  

      • 3

        I totally agree with you! Fitness is probably one of the best preps, but one that we don’t focus on or put enough time into. 

        Someone that is 200 pounds overweight and can’t walk down the block without getting winded shouldn’t expect to be able to hike for miles throughout the mountains as they bugout with their 50 pound BOB.

        I’m gonna go do some pushups now! Thanks for the encouragement.

      • 7

        I’m trying to get back in shape after a bout with Cancer and Hyperparathyroidism last year.  The radiation was a piece of cake, the Hyperparathyroidism kicked my butt.  I’m getting back into shape by working on my garden project.  It’s good for my health and prepping.  At 72, I don’t plan on jumping any fences, but I can grow a mean tomato.

    • 5

      If you have such a unit in your area, consider volunteering for your local search and rescue unit, specially if you have or wish to obtain outdoor experience that would be useful in emergencies

      • 4

        I think that would be incredibly useful and fun. Being apart of search and rescue would give you so many outdoor skills just from experience, but also from learning from those who have been doing it for years. 

        The biggest thing you would probably learn is what not to do, as you rescue people who did the wrong thing. 

        And i’m sure it would be very fulfilling and rewarding that you saved someone’s life!

    • 3

      Keep mentally sharp and aware at all times

      • 3

        This is one that I need to work on. I am so guilty of not having good situational awareness when i’m out and about. 

        I’d be a horrible witness if I ever saw a robbery. Hopefully I would snap to attention though and be able to see details.

        Do you have any tips on how to grow the skill of being aware at all times?

    • 4

      A couple of no-cost preps:

      Take some no-grade/no-attendance courses of important subjects.  The web has many.  Weather is important and National Weather Service has some stuff on the web.  Now and rest of December, they’re upgrading their sites so couldn’t get something to link … might be me doing something wrong, though.  I took their “Sky Warn” 2 hour (in person class, pre pandemic). seminar. Many other courses at NWS.  Google “NWS” and if basic site appears, place ZIP in box for your area weather.  At bottom of screen will be the large array of weather stuff, from material for kids to professionals.

      Modify some clothing.  My cargo vests now have a large flat pocket on back.  These with back packet are available but cost much more than the basic ones.  Admitting that my sewing is like my painting – no awards rceived – my large all-weather paper pad is in back of vest.

      Using old shirts – canvas field type – cut off the big cargo pockets and sewed them on newer shirt. One modified shirt has the 2 extra packets on top of the original ones.  Other shirt has the two extra pockets sewn on below original pockets.  Yes, part of the “tuck-in” section of shirt.  My objective is to carry stuff and not participate in fashion shows.  Think what will help you for your needs.  Do you need a tab of material to keep a mini-mag light in place when running ? Sew on a tab to serve as a loop.

      Make some pouches.  They were free and accumulated over time.  From health fares in parking lots and at clinics I did volunteer work, I have/had several of the “poly” hand out bags to put stuff in given out at the health fairs.  Recently made one of these bags into a 3 can holder for DEED sprays in cans.  I put 3 cans in the bag, spaced them with a plastic hanger pushed against the can on outside and then sewed on the  line I later made.

      Definitely pouches needed for batteries.

      The side pockets of nylon EMT type pants make great tool kits for minimal loads. A sling or belt loop attachments finishes project.  Consider color coding so AA not confused with the AAA at night when busy with surviving some headache.

      • 2

        Super great idea! Doing some sewing to repair or add additions to gear would be an excellent and relaxing thing to do on a snowy afternoon with a cup of hot chocolate!

    • 7

      See if your town has a CERT program! You can get trained in Incident Command System protocols (i.e., how local government emergency management officials and first responders organize themselves in a disaster response scenario; it’s standardized, allowing easy coordination among neighboring local governments, across federal, state, and local response efforts, and across fire, police, medial contexts), emergency first aid, whether and how to search and clear a building, etc. for free, and meet people who live in your community and share your interest in preparedness while you do so— without letting anyone into your house. 😉 Once you’re trained, you get matched to a neighborhood group where you meet regularly to do further training and develop resources for your neighborhood. 

      I got trained in a community where the CERT program was small and basically run by this one woman as a retirement project following a career in the military. Thanks to her savvy and strong relationships with the fire department, the program really punched above its weight. We got to use fire extinguishers on actual fire in training, practice search skills a house the fire department uses exclusively for drills, and we were all given a pre-loaded backpack of emergency supplies upon completion of training. In the city where I currently live, the program is huge and really professional: I get a lengthy weekly newsletter via email, plus updates on specific subprograms I’ve chosen to follow, and CERTs get “deployed” for all kinds of things, from distributing meals to families with kids on free lunch during Covid school shutdowns to creating perimeters around downed powerlines during windstorms. All this to say, the programs vary a lot, but generally all they want from participants is a little time and ongoing training— no $$ required!

      ETA – TP’s write-up on CERT: https://theprepared.com/community/guides/cert-training-community-emergency-response-team/

      • 3

        I’m super glad you enjoyed your CERT training. That is something i’ve been eyeballing for a while and have been wanting to try it. Definitely something I will be looking into more this next year.

    • 5

      I’ve started a journal  on YouTube prepping and gardening videos.  I think a hardcopy is critical in a SHTF scenario.  I admit it’s a little aggravating to keep pausing the video to write everything down, but I know I’ll have a go-to resource if electricity goes down for a long time.  Plus, writing it down helps me remember the video content. After I fill it up, I’m going to rewrite it in another journal so it’s organized and legible. 
      journal 

      • 4

        Learning from YouTube videos is a great idea! I’ll feel like i’m back in school again.

      • 3

        You are right about school. I tell people if it’s not on YouTube, you don’t need to know it. And if it’s not on Amazon, you don’t need it.  : )

    • 3

      More of a bushcraft skill than an actual prep (there are better options like a lighter), but knowing how to make a fire from rubbing sticks together would really help you to learn about firecraft. I’ve heard it is a skill and will really help you to be able to start fires easier with other methods once you have done one of the hardest methods.

      Still isn’t something that i’ve done yet, but that is one of my new years resolutions for this next year!

      And the best thing is that it is free! Just go outside and find some sticks.

      • 3

        Can’t help but think of Tom Hanks in Cast Away.

        https://youtu.be/eBoiZH8Go4I

      • 7

        Such a great movie! Ok story time… 

        I needed to have my wisdom teeth taken out, and instead of paying some dentist $500 to do it, I found a medical study that would actually pay you to do it.

        As I was waiting for them to do the procedure they had Cast Away on the TV, and I watched the scene where he knocks his infected tooth out by hand using the ice skate. Kind of fitting as I was waiting to get my teeth taken out. haha.

        Anyways, they took out my wisdom teeth and when the numbing stuff wore off you let them know and they either gave you a placebo sugar pill, normal tylenol, or the test medication. They would check in on you every hour and ask you what your pain was on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the worst pain imaginable. I had just watched Cast Away and had that fresh on my mind. And as a tough little prepper/survivalist, I wanted to be cool like Tom Hanks’s character and thought about the pain he had to go through after he knocked out his tooth and he didn’t have any medication. So every time they came in to check on me, I toughened up and gave them a response of like 1 or 3. 

        I probably threw off their study and was an outlier, but I think it is their fault showing me Cast Away before my procedure.

      • 6

        I agree, Jay.  I ordered a tooth extraction kit from Amazon.  My wife asked me why in the world would I need such a thing.  I told her it would easier than an ice skate and rock.  Granted, it wouldn’t be easy to have someone pull your tooth, but after a few days of agonizing pain it would be doable.  That’s why we hoard our pain killers and liquor.  

        Screen Shot 2020-12-14 at 2.43.37 PM

      • 5

        I don’t think I would be brave enough to buy that set without first learning how to make a DIY anesthesia. Because I do not want to be conscious when I have my wife comes at me with those pliers!

      • 1

        I agree. But I’ve had toothaches that were so painful, I could have pulled it myself. Just knowing the extraction would be a relatively temporary pain would put me in the right mindset. I hope it would never come to that.  Anesthesia and drugs are our friends.  : )

      • 4

        I can relate to the pain leveling experience. When I gave birth, I also had to get stitches for the, er, general area. The nurses would ask how my pain was. I’d just had childbirth! I’d say 2 or 3, but I still took the ibuprofen they offered. 🙂

      • 5

        I wonder what the fastest and most reliable rubbin stick fire method is. I would probably think a bow drill, then a hand drill, and then finally a fire plough (like on this Cast Away clip). I just don’t see people doing the fire plough on tv as much as they do the hand drill. Granted, that is tv though.

        Never made a fire by rubbin sticks together. I’ll have to give it a try sometime.

    • 7

      A great free prep is planning.

      Get your family together and make a fire plan. Make a map of the house. Show fire extinguishers, exits, and meeting place.

      Also a tornado plan, flood plan, hurricane etc…

      Call down lists are also good to have. A good family call down list is great in an emergency. Here is how they work. At the top are family leaders, Grandparents, parents or whoever. But someone has to be the very top. They have a list of everyone in the entire chart. The leader is responsible for calling the next group down. So say Grandparents call all their kids. Then Those kids call all their kids and so on down the list. When it gets to the bottom of the list everyone (except the lowest level) calls back up the list and gives a report on who they talked to and who they didnt. When it gets back to the top you should have everyone in your family either accounted for or you know exactly who to start searching for. This doesnt have to be just a family either. It could be a whole neighborhood or community. Just as long as its a hierarchy that everyone knows and respects. And doing a Call Down Drill like a fire drill every once in a while is good practice and doesnt cost anything either.

      • 6

        As an additional Christmas present to my family last year, I made up little emergency contact sheets for everyone. It included a phone number, email, and address for all our immediate family. This is meant for them to keep in their wallet so that if their phone died, they would still have a way to get in touch with family.

        I like your idea of a call down list, but I think my family is too disorganized to be successful for them. haha. If your family is a bit more prepping oriented, then definitely could be valuable.

    • 4

      Learning is basically free, and the knowledge will be with you for life.  I doubt there is much more important than knowing skills.

      • 2

        Yep, you are so right.  My focus was learning to grow vegetables last year and gathering heirloom seeds.  In March, I’m getting 8 chickens for eggs and poop fertilizer. 

      • 3

        I hope to get some chickens in the future as well. This was a great forum post a while ago that you might learn something from to aid you in your journey. 

    • 2

      https://www.bobvila.com/articles/best-fireproof-document-bag/

      Reading above article on fire resistant – NOT fire proof – is a good prep to work on knowledge base.

      I didn’t look at the pricing knowing that everything is expensive.

      SIDEBAR; Oily, don’t forget to research and sign up for your CERT.  It’s basically no-cost.  If getting info loads you up with questions, start a new link here at TP.com.

    • 4

      One thing that I’ve started since the pandemic is to track the household rate of nominal consumable use. So when you decide you want 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years of something stored, you know how much that actually is. My husband has gotten into this with me as it’s sort of fun. We have pads of paper hung inside kitchen and bathroom medicine cabinets with a pen to make it easy to do. It has also shown how disparate the durations are for what I have on-hand.    

      • 2

        Our goal was to have at least 6 months stored up of what we use everyday, so to know what we used and how long each item would last us, I did the exact same thing and hung pieces of paper in the cupboards in my kitchen and bathroom.