Emergency preparedness checklist: Prepping for beginners

Do you want to be better prepared for emergencies but aren’t sure where to start or if you’re doing it right? This “prepping for beginners” emergency preparedness checklist walks you through the basic steps with sane, expert-verified advice for modern people. When you’re done, you’ll be ready to handle the majority of what may come your way.

Last Updated: December 22, 2019
Whole new version of this guide, with updates to the structure and links to reviews and guides we've written since the last version.
  • : Added links to our new medical supply lists, along with reviews of other gear like fire starters and axes.
  • : Added new product recommendations for water filters, hygiene, headlamps, tourniquets, and more.
  • : Updated our recommended basic home supplies for food and water based on the results of our big in-house reviews.

Whether you’re worried about a sudden layoff, home invasions, car accidents, the power going out for a week, natural disasters, or long term economic and societal decline, it’s critical that you start getting prepared now. By definition, if you wait until you need it, it’s already too late.

You’re not alone: Millions of rational people from all walks of life are taking preparedness seriously — and the movement is growing as more people realize they can’t depend on others to save them in our changing world.

It’s simple: depending on what happens, you’ll either stay in your home, leave your home, or be away from home. Making it needlessly complicated makes you less prepared.

But prepping can seem overwhelming. And to make matters worse, there’s a lot of crazy “loud minority” junk out there that pollutes rational preparedness with extremism, dangerous info, or silly internet debates that don’t actually matter.

The whole point of prepping is to reduce the chances of major life disruptions and to better recover from disruptions when they do happen. That’s it!

Even something as simple and common as a fire extinguisher in your kitchen counts — the vast majority of prepping has nothing to do with bunkers and bullets!

Don’t just look for a single checklist and skip the reading. You will save yourself a lot of wasted money and time, and be better prepared, if you take a little bit of time to learn from others instead of making the same mistakes most beginners make when they try to “skip the vegetables” — the real trick to prepping well is knowledge and following the right path, not putting a bucket of gear in your closet.

The basic steps to prepping:

  1. Build a solid personal finance and health foundation
  2. Get your home ready for two weeks of self-reliance
  3. Be able to leave your home with only a moment’s notice (“bug out bags”)
  4. Prepare for emergencies that happen away from home (“get home bags” and everyday carry)
  5. Learn core skills and practice with your gear
  6. Share and recruit while continuing to learn and going beyond the basics

Why you can trust this plan

We started The Prepared because we used to be in your shoes — typical people who wanted to get prepared in a way that meshed well with normal life — and we were frustrated by how unhelpful, untrustworthy, and irrational most online resources were.

So everything you see on this site, including this guide, is crafted by survival and preparedness experts with advice that applies to a wide range of people, places, budgets, and scenarios.

Some contributors, for example, teach military pilots how to survive if they eject behind enemy lines, advise the White House and US DOD on related issues, run major nonprofits that help victims after a disaster, are field medics patching up soldiers kicking down doors in the most violent places, and shelter administrators who were on the ground for major events like Hurricane Katrina or the California wildfires.

Be prepared. Don’t be a victim.

Want more great content and giveaways? Sign up for The Prepared’s free newsletter and get the best prepping content straight to your inbox. 1-2 emails a month, 0% spam.

Why are you here? Regardless, you’re not alone!

Maybe you’re generally worried about politics, the economy, and natural disasters. Or maybe you or someone you love went through an emergency and you’ve decided not to be a victim anymore.

Whatever your reasons, you’re not alone: Millions of people are actively preparing, and their reasons are as diverse as they are.

More: The major reasons why rational people are prepping

Regardless of your politics, age, gender, location, and so on, you probably know people who are prepping. They just tend not to broadcast it. We’ve even had spouses each independently tell us they’re prepping, asking how they can bring it up to their partner “without it seeming weird,” only to find out they were both doing it already!

Tips and common beginner mistakes

Many of these are fleshed out in the sane prepper rules. To highlight the most common:

  • Don’t buy off-the-shelf kits. 98% of them are not worth buying.
  • You can’t predict when an emergency will happen, so a good prep is always ready.
  • You cannot predict what’s going to happen, so be diligent about finding and avoiding assumptions in your preps.
  • Stay realistic and practical. Avoid zombie and Rambo fantasies. Focus on the things that matter most and remember that simpler is better.
  • Don’t let prepping overwhelm or defeat you. It’s important to enjoy the good life now and not go down a dark spiral of doomsday depression or blow your life savings on supplies. You can prepare without giving up, just like how buying health insurance doesn’t mean you’ve given up on your health.
  • Ignore the noise and extremism that tries to take over prepping from the fringes. Unfortunately, many of the related blogs, forums, and Facebook groups are riddled with junk. Speak up or go somewhere else.
  • Prepping is better when you connect with like-minded people. Try to connect with others through our website and through local groups (eg. scouts, CERT, amateur radio clubs, hiking clubs, etc.)
  • Avoid “double dipping” your gear. It’s tempting to pick stuff out of your bug out bag for a camping trip, for example. But then life tends to get in the way, the gear stays scattered, and that creates windows where an emergency might strike and you’re unprepared.
  • If you’re on a budget, it’s better to buy fewer high-quality things than cheap stuff that will fail when you need them most. You can prep without much money, but it looks more like DIY and second-hand type of purchases, less so the dollar store.
  • Don’t just buy some gear, throw it in a closet, pat yourself on the back, and move on. You are not prepared unless you practice with your supplies and plans.
  • A bug out bag is not simply for bugging out to a predetermined location along a predetermined path. It’s the one bag you grab first when you need to leave your home.
  • It’s wrong to think “my plan is to bug out” or “my plan is to shelter in place at home” — emergencies don’t care about your plans, and a good prep means being able to do both.

Planning based on your risks

It’s very common in social forums for people to respond to a beginner prepper’s plea for help by asking “well, what are you prepping for?” and then tailoring plans and supplies specifically to that event.

That isn’t horrible, and it has the benefit of keeping people grounded instead of being stuck in doomsday fantasies.

But, in practice, that mental model causes people to get tunnel vision — which then makes their preps less effective or efficient — or gives the false impression that there are huge differences in how to prepare.

The good news is that the prepping basics checklist is the same for 98% of people and scenarios.

It’s once you get past those essentials that things start to get customized or tricky — if you want to grow an indoor garden in your city studio, for example, or have unusual medical needs.

There are specifics you layer on top of the basics depending on your local risks. If you’re preparing for a hurricane, for example, you’d want to figure out your storm shutters plan sooner than later. But all the core stuff like two weeks of supplies and a go-bag are the same.

Maslow’s hierarchy and the Pareto 80-20 rule

We talk a lot about the 80-20 rule (the “Pareto principle”) on The Prepared and how it should guide emergency preparedness.

The initial 20% (what this guide covers) of all the possible work you could do in prepping gets you 80% of the way there. To go from 80% to 100% prepared requires a lot more work and money.

That principle applies throughout prepping. For example, you should prepare for the 80% of likely scenarios, not the unlikely ones like fascist zombies arriving on a radioactive alien asteroid.

Maslow’s hierarchy is a popular psychology principle that explains what humans need to survive and thrive in order of importance:

Prepper checklist priorities prepping on a budget

The foundation is, obviously, essentials like air, water, and shelter. Many preppers refer to The Rule of 3’s: You can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter in bad conditions, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

Once you’ve got those covered you can then think about the next layer, and so on. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization, which means things like enjoying hobbies and “finding yourself.”

Use these two critical frameworks to keep your preparations grounded and prioritized. For example, it’s much better to have four boring meals than two of your favorite meals.

Believe it or not, we see people making these mistakes all the time. “I’d rather have chocolate and the Game of Thrones books in my bug out bag, because what’s the point of surviving if I can’t have candy and fun!” No! #badprepper

Step 1: Get your health and finances in order

Medical issues and financial difficulties are the most likely disruptions you’ll face in your lifetime, and since you’re a sane prepper, you prioritize the most likely emergencies first.

All of the statistics around personal financial health are shockingly bad — particularly in the US. For example, over 50% of Americans can’t handle an unexpected $500 emergency (eg. your expired-warranty home furnace suddenly fails) without using credit cards.

You should not spend any money on gear/supplies beyond the essentials (eg. two weeks of water in your home) without first having core financial preps such as a rainy day fund, debt-reduction plan, and retirement savings.

More: Tips for normal people to turn their finances from “problem” to “prepped”

Similar story with personal health: We’re getting sicker and less capable of handling the physical demands that are inherent in an emergency. It’ll be hard to survive at all if you struggle to walk up stairs, have addictions, or can’t keep your mind clear while your body goes through extreme stress.

More: Physical fitness gurus (who are also preppers) pick the best exercises for preparedness

Don’t forget other “adulting” basics like insurance and estate planning. Do you have a will? Does your family know what to do if you’re in a bad accident and can’t talk? Do you want doctors to keep you alive in a vegetative coma? Have you added beneficiaries to your financial accounts so your family isn’t locked out from money while waiting for the probate court system?

Tip: Going for random walks around your home is a great way to exercise and check off a core 101 checklist item (know your surroundings!) at the same time.

72 hours vs. 2 weeks

Until recently, emergency preparedness guides typically recommended having 72 hours worth of supplies. The Department of Homeland Security’s Ready.gov site currently says, “Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours.”

They’re wrong. Surviving for 72 hours is better than nothing, but most modern experts believe you should be prepared for at least two weeks in order to handle the majority of likely events.

Some groups, like the Red Cross, have updated their suggestions; their site now says, “3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home.”

Our emergency systems, first responders, and community supplies can be quickly overwhelmed. The system just isn’t designed to handle sudden and widespread disasters.

“There is an urgent need for residents to prepare for two weeks.” — Robert Ezelle, director of Washington’s Emergency Management Division

Recent events like Hurricane Harvey, the Japanese Tsunami, Haiti Earthquake, and the California Wildfires are all examples of localized disasters where people were displaced or without basic services for weeks, not days.

In 2016 the US Navy, Coast Guard, and Washington state’s National Guard did a full-scale, nine-day drill to test how well they could respond to a massive earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. That area covers Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland through northern California.

The 83-page report comes to a lot of scary conclusions. The authors admit the systems are not ready, infrastructure would collapse, and they’d have a full-blown humanitarian crisis in ten days.

We recently interviewed the Portland Water Bureau, and they had a similar message about an earthquake in that region: a million people in that 225-square-mile area will be without water for months, not days.

Politics and budgeting are making things worse over time, not better. It would take at least a week to properly coordinate outside resources brought in to help. For example, the American military reports they need an average of eight days to mobilize a response inside the US border — and that’s just for a relatively-localized crisis, such as an earthquake.

Step 2: Get your home ready for two weeks of self-reliance

We start with the home because it’s where you spend most of your time and is usually the best place to make it through an emergency. Which is why governments give the standard “stay in your home!” advice during a crisis.

Example situations:

  • You have an unexpected big expense or layoff that blows your tight budget
  • School and work is cancelled due to a crippling heat wave
  • The electrical or water grid goes down for a few days
  • A nasty hurricane floods your city for a week
  • An epidemic is spreading and you’re quarantined to your home
  • Civil order breaks down with mass unrest in the streets
  • A nearby city is attacked by an enemy
  • Total collapse (“Shit Hits The Fan”)

Your goal is to be able to survive in your home for at least two weeks without any outside help — whether from people or the grid. That means you can’t assume you’ll have electricity, water, cooking or heating gas, communication, internet, 911, ambulances, and so on.

Home checklist summary:

Water is just too important to leave to chance. So don’t assume you’ll have time to fill the bathtub or run to the store, and don’t use inappropriate vessels such as milk jugs. Buy proper water storage tanks and keep them in a closet instead.

Food is usually handled one of two ways, although you can do both: freeze-dried survival food buckets or a deep pantry of what you normally eat.

“Store what you eat and eat what you store” is a popular saying because it’s easy, doesn’t cost more in the long run, and works well for people who already eat at home a good chunk of the time.

For sake of example:

  • Susan normally eats soup twice a week.
  • Cans of soup have a shelf life of three years.
  • Today, Susan keeps a few cans in the pantry and buys just enough every shopping trip to hold her over until the next trip.
  • So, at any given time, Susan may only have a handful of cans at home.
  • Instead, Susan starts buying a few extra cans each trip when her budget allows.
  • Newly-purchased cans go to the back of the pantry line (with dates written on them in marker) and Susan always eats the oldest can first.
  • After a while, Susan has built up a surplus with a pantry of up to 312 cans of soup (2 per week x 52 weeks x 3 year shelf life).
  • Once she hits the right surplus level, she goes back to the habit of just buying enough each trip to replenish what was eaten since the last trip.
  • Her daily-life routine doesn’t change, yet she never eats expired soup.
  • If an emergency happens, there’s now over 300 cans of food that Susan already enjoys with up to 3 years of life left!

Tip: If your habits change (eg. Susan suddenly becomes allergic to soup) or you end up with some inventory that’s going to expire soon, then just donate them. Local firefighters/police tend to have donation drives, and that’s a good opportunity to meet some of your local heroes.

What is a bug out bag? Should I have one?

An emergency can strike at any time. You may only have seconds to leave your home. Or maybe you gain an advantage (eg. beating traffic) by evacuating while everyone else is still scrambling.

That’s why a core part of being prepared is having one bag that’s always packed and ready to use — no matter what happens, you’ll know you have the right core essentials to survive, comfortably handle the aftermath, and potentially help others around you.

So your bug out bag is essentially your emergency kit, since you’ll be okay if that’s the only thing you ever have/prepare.

Bonus: As a beginner prepper, building your go-bags is in many ways the same as building an emergency kit for your home. Since the bag is always kept at home, if something happens around the house or you shelter in place during a longer emergency, those go-bag supplies can be used if needed.

Since you can’t assume you’ll have vehicle transportation, these bags are designed to be foot portable. That means using a backpack and keeping things at a reasonable weight while considering your local environment.

Some folks think a bug out bag is exclusively for “bugging out” along a predetermined path to a pre-stocked “bug out location” (like a cabin in the woods). That might happen, but that’s an assumption that breaks the sane prepper rules.

Similarly, some people say “I can’t imagine a realistic scenario where I would need to bug out for more than a few days.” You can decide to skip building a packed-and-ready bag if you’d like, but that means you’re deciding to be less prepared. The whole point is that you don’t know what’s going to happen, so why not have a bag that’s always packed and can do double duty in your home? The only time we think it’s rational to skip this step is for elderly or disabled people who face steep challenges outside the home.

There are countless situations where having this one bag, ready to go, can make the difference between life or death — or at least the difference between smooth sailing or lots of pain and lost money. Some examples:

  • Authorities order an evacuation and you want to beat the chaos and traffic jams by leaving quickly while others scramble to pack.
  • You need to get somewhere fast (maybe a family member is suddenly on their deathbed) and you don’t have time to pack an overnight bag.
  • You wake up in the middle of the night to a house fire or rapidly-approaching wildfire that burns down your home just after you escape.
  • Someone is injured outside your home, so you grab your bag (which has medical supplies) and run towards them.
  • The hurricane or tornado you thought was going to miss you suddenly changed course, and now you’re in a FEMA shelter for a month.
  • An earthquake forces you outside and you can’t go back in for days while they turn off the utility gas to stop the fires.
  • Civil unrest develops outside your home and you want to get some distance.
  • An enemy has attacked your area, perhaps with a missile or bio weapon.
  • A home intruder or other domestic violence situation means you need to leave quickly.

Your go-bag has what you need to survive, like water and shelter, while also including things to recover, like important documents for homeowner’s insurance or pictures of loved ones.

And that’s the tricky part: How do you put together the most well-rounded complement of stuff you need to survive and recover in one bag? How do you build that bag in a way that covers the widest range of practical scenarios as possible?

More: Why you should use a prioritized bag system instead of bags based on timelines

Step 3: Bug Out Bags for every adult

More accurately: a bug out bag for everyone around the house who can carry them. Many families build a separate bag for children once they hit 10-12 years old, modifying the contents as needed, for example.

See the complete bug out bag checklist — there’s too much to include on this page, including the reasons why experts prioritize the gear they do and how to prioritize gear across three levels.

For example, a basic 20-pound “go bag” should have:

More: Great bug out bag backpacks

Step 4: Get Home Bags, Everyday Carry, and vehicle supplies

What happens if an emergency strikes while you’re away from home?

You clearly can’t walk around with a heavy bag all of the time, so the key is to keep the right kinds of supplies where they naturally fit within your life pattern — most people’s daily patterns tend to be pretty consistent and predictable, so use that to your advantage.

Example scenarios:

  • A badly bleeding and clearly drunk student is stumbling around an alley alone on a cold Friday night — a real scenario handled by a The Prepared reader who used the info learned in this guide!
  • Your subway car loses power in between stations.
  • You witness a serious car accident while driving home in rush-hour traffic. It might take emergency services 10 to 15 minutes to arrive.
  • You’re cornered by two muggers while walking home from your friend’s apartment at night.
  • A shooter attacks random people while you’re in the shopping mall.
  • An earthquake strikes while you’re at work. Your car is in the parking garage and you work in the city about 30 minutes away from your suburban home.
  • Kim Jong Un decides to interrupt your well-deserved spa day by sending an ICBM to the neighboring city.

For most people in modern societies, that means a combination of:

  • A Get Home Bag (GHB) in your vehicle trunk, work locker, office, or wherever else it can be safely stored in a way that’s near you for as much of a typical day as possible.
  • Everyday carry (EDC) items you keep on your person at all times, either on your body or in a daily-use pack, such as a school backpack or purse.
  • Car supplies. Even if you keep a GHB in your trunk, it’s a good idea to keep additional gear specifically for vehicle problems.

A Get Home Bag gets its name from the concept of “Shit just hit the fan, so I need to get home because that’s my primary spot!”

But a GHB also serves as your only source of supplies if the nature of the emergency means you can’t (or shouldn’t) try to get home. For sake of an extreme example, imagine a bioweapon is released between your job and home, meaning you need to evac in the opposite direction. A more common example is spending a night in your car during a snowstorm.

So a GHB is similar to a BOB in many ways, just kept outside of the home. You should use and modify the bug out bag checklist.

Common loadout differences between a GHB and BOB:

  • Car trunks can get very hot, so avoid foods and medicines that melt at 100-150 degrees.
  • Only fill water containers ~85% of the way to allow for freeze expansion in cold climates.
  • In areas with stricter weapons laws, what you can legally keep stored in your BOB at home might not be legal in a GHB/EDC outside the home.

Since most Americans drive everywhere, the car trunk is the most common storage spot. Some people go as far as to bury their GHB near their job or on the route between work and home.

If you don’t drive or just don’t have the ability to store a whole backpack somewhere, do your best to integrate the most important supplies (eg. a water filter) into your daily-use packs or purses.

Everyday Carry checklist

Since EDC items are physically carried everywhere you go, you’re much more limited by space and weight. Over 95% of EDC items you see in the wild are made from all or part of this list:

  • In Case of Emergency details (eg. a laminated card of important info kept in a wallet)
  • Phone (usually with downloaded maps and helpful apps)
  • Li-Ion rechargeable battery pack
  • Flashlight
  • Pocket knife
  • Multitool
  • Lighter
  • Paracord
  • Some or all of a Level 1 IFAK
  • Boo-boo kit (less trauma oriented than an IFAK)
  • Respirator
  • Weatherproof notepad and pen
  • Self defense weapons, pepper spray, etc.
  • Hidden cash and/or credit cards

These items can be spread around in whatever way makes sense for you. For example, some people keep the phone and lighter in their pocket, the flashlight on their keychain, the multitool and CCW pistol on their belt, the paracord in the form of a wrist bracelet, and the medical supplies, respirator, USB battery, notepad, pen, and ICE info in their bag/purse.

We don’t recommend using bulletproof body armor, backpacks, or similar protective gear for EDC. The fear around active shooters is overblown — you’re more likely to die from winter ice — and the gear, although effective in a vacuum, just isn’t practical for everyday use (yet).


If you have a vehicle, you should keep basic gear on hand for road-related emergencies. These items don’t need to be kept in a backpack since it’s very unlikely you’ll need to carry them on foot over distance.

Popular gear kept in the car:

  • In Case of Emergency info kept in a glove box or console
  • Maps
  • Window breaker and seatbelt cutter tool
  • Mylar emergency blanket 1-2x
  • Proper blanket or extra coat
  • Extra hat, sunglasses, sunscreen
  • Jump start battery
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow straps
  • Road flares or blaze signal
  • Spare tire
  • Tire wrench
  • Jack
  • Tire repair kit (plug holes instead of replace the whole tire)
  • Windshield scraper
  • Deicing wiper fluid
  • A small shovel (ie. “e-tool” or entrenching tool) or garden trowel for digging out tires
  • Kitty litter, sand, or other spreadable traction
  • Traction boards
  • Boo-boo kit, IFAK, Rx meds, extra glasses, etc.
  • Plug to turn a cigarette lighter into a USB charger
  • Stored water and/or water filter

More: Check out the winterizing your car checklist if you live in an area with harsh winters.

Step 5: Learn, practice, and plan!

Having gear is one thing, but survival experts know that a great prep is a mix of gear, skills, planning, and practice.

Which means you are not actually prepared if you simply buy some gear, throw it in storage, then pat yourself on the back! Again, #badprepper!

You do not want to rely on a product in an emergency that you’ve never used before. Even if something seems simple now, your brain can turn into a bowl of mush when faced with chaos. For example: Think a car window breaker would be simple?

And there are too many crappy “survival” products that fall apart in the field when you need them most. Or maybe that lifeboat food you bought doesn’t sit well with your stomach, which you don’t realize until dealing with diarrhea at the worst time.

Once you’ve got some of the basic gear in place across your home and go-bags, it’s time to start learning critical skills.

Do this in parallel as you continue building your supplies past the basics and fine-tuning your disaster preparedness plan.

Although you can find hidden gems for free on YouTube, it’s hard to know which ones are legit and which ones are some random guy telling you debunked survival advice passed down from his granpappy. We’ve lost count of the number of random lessons around the web that teach debunked survival myths, such as using tampons to plug bullet holes.

The Prepared has a whole section on survival skills, with new free content crafted by bonafide experts coming all the time, and in 2020 we’re releasing video courses.

Some great places to start:

More: List of preparedness instructors in the US and Canada

As you learn more about preparedness, don’t forget to practice your skills the same way you would practice with gear.

It’s also time to get into the habit of an annual or semi-annual prep review, where you check your supplies, update anything expired, swap out winter and summer clothes in your go-bags, check contact info, etc.

Your annual review is also a great time to do practice runs with your family.

Step 6: Share and recruit!

Prepping is more effective — and more fun! — when you share the responsibility with your friends, family, and neighbors.

It’s like a multi-level-marketing scheme, except everyone wins!

Some old-school preppers followed too much of a Lone Wolf mentality, where they kept everything secret and assumed they’ll traverse the wastelands alone with their shotgun and trusty dog while everything else collapses around them.

Things just don’t work that way. During the Great Depression, for example, studies show that areas with higher “community mindsets” fared much better than areas where people tended to go it alone.

More: Why and how to talk about prepping with your inner circles

You clearly don’t want to broadcast your prepping to people you don’t know, whether in the form of public social media posts or obvious “flags” around your home. Don’t paint targets on yourself or your stuff when an emergency hits.

But family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers are all potential recruits. Not only will you feel good about helping others see the light, you’ll be better prepared the more of a “buffer” you have around you.

Tip: Use our free kit builder to send links of pre-populated gear to your network. For example, you could send the URL to this first aid kit to your neighbors as a non-threatening or non-weird way to help someone ease their way into preparedness.

A great way to meet other like-minded folks in your community is through local training — which may even lead to creating or joining a “resilience circle” or prepper mutual-aid group.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) courses are a free and popular example. You can just go for the class or sign up to be a community volunteer that’s activated during a crisis.

Then what?

You’re no longer a beginner at this point. Well done! Take a breather and stop thinking about bad scenarios for a while.

How you progress from here starts to greatly depend on your goals and circumstances. Roughly speaking, people tend to:

  • Increase the amount of time they can survive in their home without the help or grid — which usually means increasing supplies (eg. having multiple months or years of food and water) and improving the home so it doesn’t need the grid.
  • Get into more advanced gear, such as multiple types of firearms,
  • Explore ways to create their own food through farming or livestock, even if it’s a small indoor garden or meat rabbits.
  • Explore ways to capture their own water via rain collection systems, etc.
  • Buy or build a bug out vehicle.
  • Be more intentional about cooking at home, repairing or mending products, composting, and other general homesteading techniques.
  • Build up a resource library of survival books or other info not dependent on the internet.
  • Continue improving their physical fitness and personal finances.
  • Hedge against economic risks with precious metals and/or cryptocurrency.
  • Build or buy a bug out location, such as a cabin in the woods a reasonable drive away from home.
  • Continue learning advanced skills, such as Wilderness First Responder or metalworking.

Be sure to participate in communities like The Prepared’s blog and forum. We also like the /preppers subreddit. Prepping is a never-ending lifestyle, so try to check in with the community from time to time.


    • Miguel Horowitz

      This is AWESOME! Thank you thank you. I was searching forever for a good prepper guide.

      6 |
    • Kien W

      Thank you so much for this guide. I feel like I’m infinitely more prepared to handle high-stress emergency situations after reading this guide.

      2 |
      • John RameyStaff Kien W

        Excellent! Thanks for saying so, let us know how we can help in the future. Good luck Kien 🙂

        1 |
    • Miera Scarlet

      Thank you so much for this guide. It’s very helpful, detailed and straight to the point. This is by far the best prepping for beginners guide I’ve ever read. I really like how you considered everything and pin point the important things. I think everyone should make early preparations for surviving any disaster or crisis. This way we can survive all the hardships. We can’t predict the future so better be safe than sorry.

      When speaking about survival, it reminds me of one of my favorite survival book. It’s really easy to understand and very useful in so many ways. It contains so many survival guides that most of us don’t even know of. My favorite part of the book is that it helps the readers to learn making their own medicine using medicinal plants that most of us don’t even know that it can be use for that purposes. The book teaches how to identify and prepare the plant for medical uses. But that’s just a small part of it. There are so much more survival guides in that book.

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful guide. I really appreciate it : )

      3 |
    • Byron

      Love the checklist! Thanks a lot for putting this together.

      3 |
    • Ryan Simmons

      Thanks for this guide! It’s really helpful! I plan on getting items needed for sheltering in place at my home or at neighbor’s house shelther in place bag, then start putting my Bug Out Bag and EDC/Get Home Bag together. I plan to take a trip this year overseas hopefully, so once I start new job next week (also plan on getting second part time job for extra income), I plan on putting my travel gear together first and then start putting my sheltering in place gear, my bug out bag gear and my EDC/Get Home Bag together afterwards.

      2 |
      • John RameyStaff Ryan Simmons

        Happy to hear it was helpful, thanks Ryan! Starting with your shelter-in-place / home supplies is almost always the right move. Good luck!

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      • Ryan Simmons Ryan Simmons

        https://uploads.disquscdn.c…. In the first picture, I already have my water stocked up. I reused milk jugs and orange juice jugs for that just like I reused water bottles to keep my fridge stockpiled with water. I saved up lots of water so far just in case shit hits the fan since I’ll have plenty of water to survive for awhile.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.c…. In the second picture, I have my batteries (AA and AAA, I’m going to get more batteries though) in a ziploc bag, my birth certificate, medical docs, pictures of family (mom, dad, aunt), notepad, pens, and permanment markers, social security card in another ziploc bag and finally, my iSOAT pills along with information for how to survive a nuclear attack/EMP attack and what to do is in another zip bag.

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      • John RameyStaff Ryan Simmons

        *Strongly* recommend not using milk jugs. Please see https://theprepared.com/hom…

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      • Ryan Simmons Ryan Simmons

        I know, I plan on getting the recommeded water containers from your emergency water container article which I read by the way. I toss out the milk jugs though.

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    • Tia

      What is your stance on purchasing a “generac” type home generator?

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      • John RameyStaff Tia

        Great question Tia. Generators, including some Generacs, are popular among preppers and usually a good idea. It can depend on your circumstances — for example, I wouldn’t automatically recommend it for someone in an urban apartment.

        There are unfortunately stories every year of people dying when using their generator during an emergency because they don’t have proper ventilation. We touched on that in our winter prep guide: https://theprepared.com/sit…

        We plan on doing full guides to generators and our top choices in the future.

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    • Tia

      Hi John,

      Thanks for responding about my generator question so quickly! Do you think there is any concern that a person with a generator might attract more attention to themselves and become a potential target? Or, am I just thinking negatively? I am definitely looking forward to reading more about generators!

      Also, can you recommend a good checklist to pack for a “kids” bug out bag? Maybe a packing list for a family using the bug out bags? Perhaps some items do not need to be duplicated? Or items that can become “kid” sized that you have tested. 🙂

      I’m really enjoying your site!

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      • John RameyStaff Tia

        The “what if XYZ makes me a target?” question is very common. In general, too many people are too worried about those risks (“opsec” for operational security).

        In reality we see that things don’t devolve into lawlessness as quickly as many people assume. e.g. even after months without power and water in Puerto Rico after the hurricane, people weren’t murdering each other for their generators.

        However, if things got really bad, yes a loud generator powering the only house with lights on while others are freezing to death would attract the wrong kind of attention. But I’d absolutely rather have a generator and choose not to use it when things are risky than not have it at all.

        Thanks for the kind words about The Prepared!

        We’ve started drafting kid lists, but don’t have them ready yet. None of it is shocking though — you skip the field knife and compass, keep the weight way down, put in an extra book and bag of sugar, etc. 🙂

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    • Geni

      Do you have an article that would give guidance & list of recommended first aid supplies to build a good kit for the home and bugging out? If not I would like to see such an article. Thanks.

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      Thanks for the guide. It’s so much more helpful than most of the stuff I’ve seen out there. I have a question about self defense items. I am not trained in the use of knives or firearms. Am also not a street fighter and am in my early fifties and not in the “best shape of my life” physically. I’m thinking if an average person like me gets a knife, and even more so a gun, it’s more likely to be taken away from me and used against me. Do you have any resources or posts that discuss safety and self defense considerations in emergency situations for average people like me?

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        Thank you for the kind words and great questions Jonnie! Those kinds of posts are already in our plan. The Prepared is a relatively-new project and we’re working hard to get more posts up quickly (the team just grew from me to three). Sign up for the newsletter so you can see when those new posts are released.

        e.g. we started a gun 101 guide: https://theprepared.com/sel…

        In the meantime, you’ll hear different schools of thought on those questions. If you buy a gun and spend zero time learning how to use it, how to store/carry it, etc., then there can be an argument that it does more harm than good.

        But in general, we lean on the side of “better to have it than not”, especially since you should practice with any piece of gear you have and can very quickly get past that point where the risk is more than the reward.

        Knives are also more granular than just self defense. At minimum you’ll want a good camp knife: https://theprepared.com/gea…

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      I hope I’m not asking too many questions here — just very excited to find a resource for prepping I can actually use — but I’m wondering about three things not mentioned in this list. First, do you know of any resources for prepping for pets? Many households now have dogs and cats and other animals. It seems important to plan for their evacuation etc. Second, do you know of any resources for emergency preparedness and response for people with disabilities? My 75 old mother had a stroke earlier this year. She’s somewhat mobile but definitely impaired, slow and not very strong and also gets tired very fast. I’d like to help her prepare for emergencies especially since I probably won’t be able to get to her in time. And lastly, I’m wondering how to plan for taking or not taking family treasures and keepsakes when we’re forced to bug out. I mean things like photo albums family heirlooms…. I’m assuming that we’d all want to save some of them if we can.

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        You’re most welcome to. We started TP because we couldn’t find a practical resource either, so I know the feeling!

        Pets and disabilities are posts we intend to do (and have already started collecting research for). To foreshadow: Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of practical and valuable answers on the disability side, but we’ll see what we can put together.

        Heirlooms is a tough one. It’s not practical to carry lots of stuff because there’s a good chance you’ll be strapped for time/weight/space already even excluding the “nice to haves”. A few pictures or a small token is likely the baseline, and if it’s a situation where you have some time to pack the car etc etc, then you can add more things like scrapbooks.

        In the end, you’d rather have water and medicine than a picture of grandma, and emergencies often force us to make painful choices.

        The best thing to do is to hedge against normal ‘disasters’ like digital data loss. We’ll do a guide on that, too.

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      About the crank operated flashlights and radios you recommend… Every single crank flashlight or radio I’ve had over the years, and I’ve had quite a few, has gone dead after some months or years of non-use. I am guessing the battery goes dead after a while from non-use, but I don’t know why. The thing is, these types of tools are inherently for intermittent use. I need my crank flashlight sometimes, maybe once every couple of months at most, and I don’t ever need my crank radio unless I’m in an emergency. So, it’s not very reassuring to not know if they will work when they’re needed. Because of this I’ve been hesitant to buy them. Is there something I’m missing? Something I should be looking out for to get ones that are reliable?

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        You’re spot on Jonnie. I’ve had the same experience over many products and many years, so I generally dislike that kind of gear.

        There may be a killer answer out there but we haven’t seen it yet. We include links to some here because many people intend on buying those categories regardless, so we want to help get the relatively-best ones.

        We also plan on doing a deep field test of those products this year, including testing energy shelf life.

        You can avoid those types of products through diligently storing and rotating batteries, having a solar setup to recharge, etc.

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      Why do we need fire starter kits, stormproof matches and mylar blankets for staying put in our homes? Is this for people who live in hurricane and flooding zones? I live in California where the main danger in the natural disaster department is from earthquakes, fires and the occasional power outage. I’m thinking that I could just use regular matches for lighting a camp stove to prep my emergency food, and maybe have a couple of lighters with the longer tips that are used to light gas stoves when the pilot light is out. Isn’t that good enough?

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        Sounds like you’re getting stuck in scenario tunnel vision, one of the most common prepping mistakes: https://theprepared.com/pre…

        It’s good to think about your risks, like earthquakes, but a good prep can handle a wide range of possibilities and has built-in redundancy. It’s not just about earthquakes vs. fires etc, it’s also about all the ways an earthquake can disrupt you. e.g. Your house might crack in half and the kitchen floods from a burst pipe and your normal matches are soaked.

        We do assume that a typical house has normal blankets, normal matches, the long-tip BBQ lighters, etc. It’s about building in redundancy on important things like water and heat.

        You could decide “I have the emergency blanket and fire starter stuff in my BOB, which I keep at home, so I don’t also need that kind of survival gear in my home supplies.” You’re better off than nothing, and if you stopped there we wouldn’t judge ya for it, but you don’t have your bases covered as well as we recommend.

        It’s always a tough balance. You can’t ever be fully covered. But this model (home supplies + BOB at home + GHB out of home) is the best basic way to get the right coverage.

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    • Maggie

      I just ordered and taste tested a bunch of ration bars and other “survival foods” and found I liked SOS New Millenium bars better-they also have a 5 year shelf life, claim to stand up to hot and cold and are also Coast Guard approved. I did find the Datrex more conveniently packaged as a solid block with individually wrapped “rations”, however, just enjoyed the fruit flavored shortbread quality of New Millenium better. Do you know of any other advantages of Datrex to these?

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      • John RameyStaff Maggie

        Thanks for sharing. No advantages come to mind — the big factors on these are cost:calorie, volume:calorie, shelf life, and taste.

        If you tested more than the ones you described here, I’d love to hear about it for when we do a proper taste test among all of the possible product options! Always helpful to have more practical data.

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      • Maggie Maggie

        I tried SOS Food labs ration bar (in cinnamon) – I think this was from the same company as the New Millenium bars, the texture was similar but it was 9 bars wrapped in one package resulting in a similar size to the Datrex package, 5 years shelf life, 3600 calories
        Grizzly Gear emergency rations- packaged as 3 breakable bars, like sugar cookie dough with extra vegetable shortening, greasy, 5 year shelf life, 3600 calories
        Survival Tabs-yuck, mostly made of whey, so they taste like eating a dried clump of protein powder, but they have a 25 year shelf life
        I’m waiting on a Mainstay bar

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      • Maggie Maggie

        And the Mainstay bar is very similar to Grizzly Gear- greasy cookie dough

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    • C R DubU

      Out of sheer curiosity, when it comes to packing clothes in your BOB, how many days change of clothes would you recommend? Any specific brands of survival-ish or just plain tougher shirts and pants you’d recommend?

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      • John RameyStaff C R DubU

        We’re working on that checklist as we speak, so keep an eye out over Q1 for that post. But to foreshadow, we keep a pair of pants, two pairs socks, one pair undies, short sleeve, long sleeve, jacket, and hat. We’ll do reviews on specific clothes later, but you definitely want more “technical” or outdoor-oriented clothing: no cotton, uses light materials, quick dry, etc.

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    • Nick

      Great article… will be tuned In for the further reviews of different items…

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      I bought the bottle top propane stove. It says that because the stove consumes oxygen it should never be used indoors. But if the weather is bad outside and you’re stuck indoors, how do you cook? Also, is it safe to put it on wood, or should it be a non-flammable surface?

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        Non-flammable / flame-resistant surface is always preferred, and keep flammable stuff like blankets at least a few feet away. Burning propane indoors is always risky, but can be mitigated and some models are “safe” for indoors. See https://theprepared.com/sit…

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      For future write-ups it would be helpful to know how to use mylar blankets properly. I have had very minimal experience with mylar blankets but I know that they are sort of unwieldy, really hard to fold once you take them out of their little packaging and that they tear easily. Also I’ve readthat they don’t work like regular blankets, so if we’re relying on them for our primary method of staying warm we should know how to use them properly.

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        Thanks for the request, we will, and you’re generally correct about the challenges!

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      • Meister Jonnie Pekelny

        Mylar has a few characteristics that make it both useful and problematic as a blanket material.  It holds static electricity so things cling to it like dust lint etc.,.  It is waterproof, so it can be a shelter from rain or sleet.  However, when used alone as a blanket, mylar does not breathe so any moisture produced by your body will be trapped.  If it’s cold, that moisture can lead to hypothermia- when you’re wet, heat is dissipated much more quickly from your body.  If you are clothed or have a cloth (wool or polartec or down is best) blanket, use the mylar as an additional outer cover.  You can leave part of the mylar open so it breathes rather than building up moisture underneath.  i recommend the double strength mylar with one side mirror finish and the other safety orange.  There are also mylar “sleeping bags” that can provide a quick warm up, but again, moisture build-up can be a problem.  I honestly don’t know how flammable mylar is, but keeping it away from open flame is a must.  Despite these drawbacks, mylar is a cheap, lightweight essential for any bug out bag.

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    • Maria Loeza

      Thank you! I’m excited to get started following the advice on this site.

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      Hey, guys, what’s the best way to store medications in the BOB and at home? I take a lot of meds and supplements. Actually, I’m not very clear on which ones it makes sense to keep for emergencies, because they’re not all essential for my survival and well-being short term, and long term it probably won’t matter if I have two weeks’ worth if civilization melts down. But for now anyway, I went to some significant effort and some expense to stash two weeks of all my meds and supplements in my BOB and another two weeks in my house. I had to bug my doctors about getting extra prescriptions and pay some money out of pocket for extras. But after all that I’ve discovered that my method of storage isn’t good. I used these pill pouches for storage: https://www.amazon.com/gp/p… but I recently found out from my nutritionist who is also a pharmacist, that this is not a good way to store pills long term. She says plastic bags let in some air. Now I’m afraid I’ve spoiled the whole stash. But I’m also at a loss of how else to store it. Keeping lots of bottles in my BOB and even at home is super bulky.

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      • Tom RaderStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        Hi @Jonnie, we are actually currently working on our medical guides (which will be out this quarter).

        The most important thing with medications is to keep them cool and dry. The biggest risk from exposure to air is moisture/humidity. I would suggest vacuum sealing pills and tablets (and if you have prescriptions in capsule form, see if you can get them as tablets). As far as your current stash, examine the suspect medications for discoloration, texture changes, or smells. If they have any discard them, otherwise they are most likely fine.

        Also, kudos for thinking ahead and getting extra scrips for meds you need and keeping them ready to go!

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    • Jean Castro

      Thanks for the thorough research and information that is provided on this page. Exactly what I needed to get started. There is something coming, we all feel it, but just don’t know what or when it will come. Better be properly prepared and educated for the best possible outcome. Most articles just give links on all inclusive survival bags, food ect. This articles goes far beyond that and to actually prepare the prepper. Thanks again!

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      • John RameyStaff Jean Castro

        Welcome, thank you for saying so, and see you around the community!

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    • Jerry Howell

      Great site! You have a new subscriber!

      What are your thoughts on bike for use in prepping? I use to be an active member of a St Louis MO base prepping “squad” and the use of pedal bikes was the best way to get out of the city and move around.

      Plus the use of a a bike trailer greatly aids in the hauling of stuff. And yes, it does make a good target for others. But I would inmagine anything would make you a target in a bad situation.

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      • John RameyStaff Jerry Howell

        Thank you Jerry, welcome!

        Bikes are wonderful. When we do more content around vehicles (it’s been a lower priority as we build up the site since sheltering-in-place is usually the default choice) we plan on talking heavily about bicycles.

        Yeah, anything visible that is valuable could make you a target in some cases, but I’d rather have a bike than not.

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      • Oh, good.  I was going to ask the same question.  I’m in NYC and don’t have a car, but have a much-used folding bike.  I’m focusing on shelter-in-place and then sort of short-term, on-foot bugout, but I think the bike would be a great option for more serious bugging out.  Look forward to your content.  In the meantime, do you know of good resources (on the sane, commonsense corner of the Internet)?

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    • kim

      first, thanks for this thorough guide! my partner and i have been preparing for emergencies in the sf bay area for over 5 years but this still pointed out some decent sized holes our in setup.

      i was a bit surprised that nowhere in home supplies did u mention how to deal with human waste if the water is knocked out. living in an apartment, we cant just go dig a hole in our backyard. and many urban preppers are in a similar boat.

      we have a 5gallon bucket with an attachable toilet seat lid, and portaquick NASA kits that (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B… in our home supplies. i’m interested in your thoughts on the matter

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      • John RameyStaff kim

        Glad helpful! Most of our team used to live in SF as well (see https://theprepared.com/blo…. I’m curious what holes you identified in your preps?

        This guide is about to undergo a major update, and waste will be more specifically called out — although it wasn’t here initially because this was focused on the 80-20 basics, and we thought most people could make do with waste if they only had that minimal baseline.

        We’re also in the middle of testing a dozen different packable toilet papers.

        The bucket solution you have is fine. Some people DIY with a $5 bucket and a pool noodle. You want saw dust (or whatever) on hand to cover each use, creating ‘sealed’ layers over time. I assume you have soap etc too.

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      • kim kim

        our main hole was differentiating med supplies as home use vs BOB use. second was was hip straps on GHB/BOBs – somehow it never clicked that carrying around heavy things on our backs without support would be problematic even though all of our day hiking backpacks have at least a thin hip and chest strap.

        we are looking forward to the coming update! i had guessed that it fell outside of the 80-20 rule for most people. we had been planning to use kitty litter (since we always have at least 10 lbs of it on hand), what are your thoughts on that as the ‘sealed’ layers vs saw dust?

        we have pump sanitizer and a dedicated camp soap to cover our waste cleansing needs, both human and feline. keep up the great work!

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      • John RameyStaff kim

        Thanks! We’re close to finishing a big purchasing guide on backpacks (recently shared a pic of a fraction of the bags we’re testing on https://www.facebook.com/Ho… and a hip belt is strongly recommended, even on the smaller minimalist packs.

        Kitty litter: It’s likely fine and far better than nothing. But we’ve heard from some people that they don’t think it covers and absorbs as well as other things (eg. sawdust) because it’s designed to clump/remove instead of cover/mute.

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      Hi, guys. I’m trying to get back into slow prepping mode, after letting it slide for some months. Don’t know where to put this question, so leaving it in the beginner prepping area… Landlines. I am one of a fast shrinking number of people who still has a landline phone in addition to my cell phone. My landline is my main phone service. I talk on the phone a lot. I find the sound and convenience of it so much nicer, plus no problems with reception in the house. Technology does improve though, and it’s possible that at some point I’ll give up my land line for a cheaper and better solution.

      I’m worried though about what happens in cases of emergencies. How are all those people who don’t have landlines going to communicate when the electrical system goes down for more than a few hours? Cell phone reception isn’t always reliable, and I’m not even clear — do cell phone towers all stay active when there’s no electricity to power them? And there is the problem of keeping your cell phone powered. Isn’t it better to have traditional phone service available?

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        Welcome back. Great question. Currently, landlines typically work even when the main electrical grid goes down (assuming your phone base doesn’t have a separate electrical wall plug). It’s hard to know if/how that will continue as companies/municipalities stop investing in land line infrastructure.

        Whether a power outage takes down your local cell towers is hard to say — the power to your home might be down, but the tower 2 miles away is fine and/or has backup power.

        5G and micro satellites over the next decade should really improve signal coverage, even in more rural areas.

        But you should always have the ability to at least receive information, if not have two-way convos when the grid is down. That’s why a NOAA radio is the baseline, or if you’re a Ham radio operator or want to become one, that’s better: https://theprepared.com/sur…

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      I’m wondering if you guys have any guidelines for what kinds of contact information we should have printed out for emergencies? I am a bit of a data hoarder, particularly when it comes to contact information that helps me stay in touch with people, so my impulse is to print out a whole lot of contact information for my closest 1000 friends. But this is probably impractical for emergencies. Also, what other types of organizations might we need on our contact list?

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        A post just about that is already drafted, with the first chunk coming out in a few weeks when this page and BOB list update. Stay tuned.

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    • Steve R

      This page is a great resource. Thank you.
      A BoB should be enough supplies and equipment to get you from the source of danger to a place of safety. A preplanned place to go with available or pre-staged resources. It could be a hotel, Aunt Betty’s house, and evacuation camp, or your stocked getaway.
      If you live in a urban environment where a vehicle could become useless due, traffic, or road closures then the possibility of waking is real. Have a plan! Don’t just grab your bug out bag and head into the sunset.

      I live in the Mojave desert, the situation will have to be dire for me to hoist a pack and walk out the door. I cannot carry enough water to get very far.

      Another way to look at BoBs are the most likely situation/reason you need to leave your home, Right Now! If we have to evacuate due to a localized threat i.e. fire, flood, chemical spill, etc. We won’t be bugging out to the wild, we’ll grab our bags and head for a friend’s house in the next county or a hotel, or maybe a hospital in the next town to be with an ailing person. What will you need?

      Consider packing a duffel bag with: A change of clothes or two, a jacket, phone charger/ power bank, car adaptor, water ( several bottles) cash, a bic lighter, a notepad and pen, digital back ups of important documents, pictures, etc., medications, headlamp/batteries, water filter, first aid kit, hygiene needs, 2-3 days of calories (the lifeboat rations are fine) snacks (nuts, granola bars, candy), comfort items: Bible, small fleece throw, a kindle/computer, small pillow, etc.
      With your car kit and EDC your bases will be covered.

      I have had to leave suddenly (family emergencies) and been able to grab my bag and not have to pack for an overnight stay while stressed and distracted. Some items like the water filter give my inner Prepper soul comfort, you know “just in case.” Others like the phone charger and cash are practical as I often forget to pack them.

      Yes, I have a backpack with ALL the recommended items listed on this very comprehensive page for me and my wife. It is my GHB when on long road trips.
      I check them every six months to change from Summer to Winter gear, my wife accuses me of “playing with my toys.”

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    • Lois Tannous

      I am hoping someone can answer a few questions. We just moved to a house that already has a huge ham radio tower. It is about 35 ft high. We line in the woods with lots of mountains but we are at one of the highest points in the area. If I bought a radio (and got my license) what kind of radio should I get? I want to be on the HF frequency.

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    • Alison Gillespie


      thank you for this guide—this is exactly what my family was looking for. Is there any more detail you could give on how much cash would be ideal? Also, do you have any thoughts on what happens if the American dollar becomes de-valued? Would you suggest also getting other country’s currencies or gold? Thanks in advance!

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      • John RameyStaff Alison Gillespie

        Glad it’s helpful Alison. I hope to write more on these topics soon. A lot of people wonder about cash/gold/etc amounts, but there’s really no answer other than “however much you can reasonably stash.” Depends a ton on your personal circumstances. Many folks tend to keep around 5% of their liquid assets in these “hedges.”

        Diversification is almost always a great way to protect against economic problems. Just like you wouldn’t have all of your eggs in one stock market company’s basket, so too is it a good idea to not have all of your eggs in the US dollar basket. Gold/silver and other metals are one way to do that. Crypto is another, as is foreign currencies. They’ll help lesson the blow of a US-dollar-specific issue, but governments don’t always make it easy to hold wealth across borders, google “FBAR” for an example.

        If you’re curious about crypto/bitcoin: https://theprepared.com/prepping-basics/guides/cryptocurrency-blockchain/

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      Years ago, in one of my earlier stalled attempts to prepare for emergencies, I saw a write-up from one of the local agencies that suggested that we keep emergency supplies in a trash can. So, I went out and bought myself a large new trash can, put it in a nook in my back yard, and filled it with all manner of stuff I thought would be useful if I had to live in a tent. Not food or water, however, since these wouldn’t last long in a trash can outside. There it all still sits, some 15 years later. Am I right to think this was totally impractical advice? I think the idea was that you could wheel your trash can along, but only if you’re on a good road and how long are you going to be going along wheeling a trash can when the s*** hits the fan? Escaping from a fire with a trash can? Now I’m thinking I should dismantle it, although it’s decent storage for camping gear. Have you guys ever heard of this advice?

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        Have never heard that! Yeah, it seems impractical. Sometimes agencies/etc will have odd little quips like that, and in some cases it’s just some low-level marketing worker who thought it sounded smart. Another recent one is local news telling people to put their valuables inside of a dishwasher when hurricanes/floods come.

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    • Mr. Blenderson

      Great article.  For the Get Home Bag, you say to just use a slightly modified version of the Bug Out Bag checklist. The Bug Out Bag article lists a L1, L2, and L3 bag.

      Are you suggesting to have a more or less identical L1-L3 bag at home and in the car?

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      • John RameyStaff Mr. Blenderson

        Essentially yes. It’s up to you how serious you want to go with your GHB. Some people want it to be a fully-functioning bag so they can bug out / survive if things happen while away from home, while others want a smaller kit only designed to “get them home.”

        Personally, I want a fully-capable bag near me at home and in my car because I don’t want to be forced to get back to my home. There could be scenarios where that’s not wise.

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      • Mr. Blenderson Mr. Blenderson

        Thanks for the response!  Will probably start with a get-home-bag and build from there.

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      I don’t know if you saw, but I posted some questions in the fire starter kit review page…

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    • Jonnie Pekelny

      On the subject of preparedness, I just heard a pretty alarming prognosis of how the Chinese coronavirus is on the path to becoming a massive pandemic with hundreds of thousands of cases a day. At least it’s not as lethal as ebola, but still. I wonder if you have any particular tips for preparedness for the possibility that this might happen and that it might come to our shores…

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      • John RameyStaff Jonnie Pekelny

        You may want to keep an eye on our Wuhan coverage, where we’re working with scientists and local non-party sources for breaking news and analysis: https://theprepared.com/blog/ — some of our reporting has since been used by CNN and others.

        There isn’t anything particularly special to do to prep. We build our recommendations, like everything on this page, to cover a wide range of scenarios.

        Imagine, for example, that you’re suddenly confined to your home for a month (as part of an effort to halt the spread). Can you do that comfortably?

        Respirators, eye protection, gloves, and proper hygiene practices (washing hands, social distancing, etc.) are the best specific ways to deal with a virus like this at this stage.

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    • Gloria Tweedle

      Thank you so much for all this amazing and useful information. My daughter and I are extremely grateful that someone has put out something that’s not zombie apocalypse related and more real to life. We will be changing a few things in our emergency bag as well as our home emergency supplies now that we’ve got the right list. We appreciate your helping us see how important all the supplies needed are for our survival cuz of the way you explained everything in detail. Again thanx so much for this article.

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    • Arterial Red

      I know you’ve probably got a list a mile long for topics, but an article on sanitation during a crisis would be awesome. Specifically, how to dispose of human waste, trash, etc.

      Thanks for the work you all put in to this!

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      • John RameyStaff Arterial Red

        Thank you for the sympathy! A mile long to say the least (and we’re only three people). Yep, that’s on the list. Including things like corpse handling.

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    • Christine B

      First of all thank you so much for the sane and reasonable information!!  I’ve was completely turned off by the online preppier information the last time I looked into it and ended up coming up with my own plans.  After living on the gulf coast for 20 years I’ve been through many of the emergencies everyone here is preparing for (hurricane evacuations, living without power, helping friends with flooded houses, helping friends evacuate for forest fire etc.) Based on my experiences I feel you have missed something critical on this page – the need to know people in your local community!  Friends, family, neighbors, and even associates like co-workers are lifelines when everything falls apart, and their generosity in a crisis is nothing short of amazing.  It was especially apparent after Hurricane Harvey when everyone poured out to help flooded neighborhoods – they showed up to help rescue people in their boats, gut houses, hand out hot food, and even direct traffic (and many of these were strangers!)  They are also your network of local information – like which parking lots are safest to park you car when your street is starting to flood or which gas stations have fuel today.  Realistically you cant prepare for everything, but a social support network will help fill in the gaps for you and those you connect with.  Just my 2 cents – thanks again for the great site and excellent coverage of COVID-19!

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    • Tara Shannon

      Hello! I found your site a few weeks ago and it has been tremendously helpful in jogging my memory as I prepare to shelter in place. I’ve created an account and am attempting to update my food list with what I have purchased. I like the idea of having a quick one page place I can use to remind myself what I have on hand. I’m struggling to get it to update as I add things, like “total” the items, at first I thought it was because I was entering some things in oz (think canned fish) and then entering some items in lbs (like bulk beans) however I converted everything to oz’s and still no totaling and items keep disappearing that I’ve entered. I’m not the most computer literate, I’m using my MacBook Pro and wonder if there is some way to transfer your formula into a program on my computer, perhaps that is the point? I’d be grateful for any direction. I’m sure you are inundated with questions, I know I’ve shared your site with quite a few folks. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you

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    • ITWOP

      Hi, I I’m hoping someone could give me some food storage advice.

      I’m out of smaller mylar bags but have some larger ones. Too large for any single item I want to store. Is it safe to put items I would use together – say, sugar and flour – in individual zippered bags inside the mylar bags? Do the zippered bags leech over time, or do you think the smells/flavors would mix?

      Thanks in advance!

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      • Ef RodriguezStaff ITWOP

        Depending on the brand of bag you’re using, it should be pretty safe. Both Ziploc and Glad bags are BPA-free, which is the chemical you want to avoid. While they are a little more expensive than store brands, they may be worth the spend to preserve the food’s flavor. Some people do feel that food stored in Ziploc-type bags don’t taste as well as other options over time.

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    • Catloverforfun

      Thank you all so much! I am a little late into it, he he, but better now then never right? I have been trying to prep for a while but couldn’t figure out how to, thanks for the help!

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    • charlene Etienne

      While your web page is an important tool I find your list for preparing for an emergency and what to buy is certainly not going to help the lower incomes and people who live near poverty.

      I would imagine that if best they might be able to buy maybe 1 or 2 items once a month not withstanding they might not have the ability to understand the importance and processs of keeping safe .

      Let’s be real  can you make another a plan for people on a beer bottle budget ?

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      • John RameyStaff charlene Etienne

        We do our best to accommodate a wide range of budgets. eg. we try to identify a “budget pick” in many of our product reviews, and we spend extra time building lists in a way so that people with limited budgets understand what the few most important things are to focus on.

        We also plan on launching a dedicated page for people with tight budgets.

        Prepping can be cheap in the sense that you can do a lot with just a few cans of water and food. That said, going deeper into prepping does cost money — that’s just the nature of it. People spend thousands of dollars a year on health insurance, and in many cases never even hit their deductible / get to “use” the insurance. Prepping is insurance for everything else.

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      • ITWOP charlene Etienne

        What’s wrong with 1 or 2 items a month? That’s how many people do it, myself included. I’d guess that very few of the people using this site are making one big trip to Cabela’s and calling it “done”.

        I wish I had a resource like The Prepared when I started my 1 or 2 items per month years ago because I would have made better decisions about what i was prioritizing, which products within a category were overpriced, and most importantly that knowledge and skills are even more important than buying stuff.

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    • The Kurgan

      Wow.  I could hardly finish the article in this mornings NY Times about sane prepping (that turned me on to this site).  I’m getting started.

      First question.  Does stored water have a shelf life?  I didn’t see anything about that above.

      Thanks for your help.

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    • Steve Santini

      Most importantly, your website is amazing. I’m new to it, so still examining, and am happy to say I have many mistakes in my planning to fix. Any critiques I have are second order.

      Does it make sense to denote what items listed are / aren’t TSA compatible? You mention the many reasons need to ‘go’… certain emergencies involve air travel. Knives, lithium batteries, etc., certainly don’t pass, but the size of liquids / creams need to be TSA compatible as well.

      Just a thought.

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      • John RameyStaff Steve Santini

        Thanks so much Steve. We do plan on making a dedicated page just for travelers, which will focus on TSA stuff a bit. I don’t know that it’d be practical for us to denote every product as TSA or non-TSA across the board though, since it’s more about general guidelines of batteries, bladed tools, liquids, etc, but we’ll do our best.

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      • Indeed, not every product, it just needs to be given a thought as one constructs a go bag. For example, my most used knife is a 1″ Spyderco on my keychain… not TSA compatible…

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    • Owen's Mom

      I was so excited to read the NY Times article about your website I came straight over! I’ve been prepping since I was 5 years old. I’m a born and raised Army Brat and my primary duty was to check, update and refresh the C-rations and evac kit. Granted, my Dad did most of the work when I was little and I just helped, then later just I followed his list and reported back.

      My first adult BOB was just stuff gathered from around the house and put in one bag. As I started to make more money, my second was loosely based on The Red Cross Earthquake Kit and a few others. Starting with the most important, I buy one item each month on the anniversary of the Northridge earthquake. I’ll be improving and refining my family’s bags based on your lists!

      It’s a slow process, but it’ll eventually get done, gives me time to carefully consider each item and I always think of my Dad and wish I could report back.

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    • Owen's Mom

      In my excitement I forgot to ask my question. Does our 50 gallon strapped water heater count as another home water source? I had a brass nozzle installed for easy on/off just in case.

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      • John RameyStaff Owen's Mom

        Welcome, thanks for the excitement! I was actually just looking at pictures of C-Rations today as we’re about to publish a guide to MREs.

        Yes, a water heater is a viable source of water. We discuss it more here https://theprepared.com/homestead/reviews/best-two-week-emergency-water-storage-containers/ but the short answer is: don’t depend on it (treat it as a bonus) and be sure you actually know how to get access to that water. Many people think “oh I’ll just use what’s in the water heater” yet they have no idea how to, don’t have the tools to, etc.

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      • The Kurgan Owen's Mom

        Side note.  I once tried to drain a water heater to flush it and sediment in the water had clogged the valve at the bottom.  It was a messy proposition getting it emptied.  I wen to a tankless heater after that.  Would be a good idea to empty yours every once in a while to flush it out.

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      • Owen's Mom Owen's Mom

        Water heater mineral deposits! We have such hard water that our water heater starts making a banging noise when there’s lots of build-up. Our plumber installed a brass faucet, taught me how to turn off our water heater, connect an old hose and drain it down the driveway every 2-3 years (tried to recycle the water, but the hot water burns the lawn and plants). When we last needed to replace our water heater I considered a tankless but discovered I would have to descale+clean the filter every 2 years anyway. Plus would lose my 50 gallon back-up water to boot. I keep a small metal kitchen strainer in a ziplock bag inside the water heater closet to strain the deposit if we ever need the water.

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    • Nick

      Hey!  Been following you all, here and on Facebook, for three years now.  Like many here, had an interest in being prepared but was overwhelmed by the info.  I’m not sure how I even stumbled on this site, but now this is basically my prepping bible.  Anyway, here’s a request – Much as you’ve done a comprehensive review on BOB’s and their contents, even making a kit list (both are fantatstic, btw), I was hoping you would do the same for GHB’s as well.  Yes, they are 80-90% the same stuff.  It’s that remaining 10-20% I want to know about.  Actually, I’m posting this on this article’s comments page, because there was an earlier version of this post that had a pretty good list of GHB gear, some of which was definitely different than the BOB list.  I subscribe to the theory of having a fully stocked bag in each vehicle, as my wife and I both travel some distance to/from work.  Also, we live in northern Wisconsin, so a seasonal section to a GHB post wouldn’t hurt.  If anyone could put one together, it would be well used.  Regardless, huge fan of your work, keep up the great effort and posts!

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      • John RameyStaff Nick

        Thanks for the feedback Nick! We do plan on making a GHB-specific guide, particularly about that 10-20% delta. Have been overwhelmed with all the stuff to do (especially with COVID), but that post will happen + we just launched our forum and kit builder tool in the meantime to help people contribute more to these guides and talk about their gear without us being a bottleneck. Check them out!

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