If you’re brand new to the idea of getting prepared, you’re likely feeling quite anxious!
It’s natural to feel this way. Why? Because it’s terrifying to take a hard look in the mirror and realize just how unprepared you are.
And if you’re not careful, this anxiety can grow. It can develop into severe stress, sleepless nights, and a sense that you’re running out of time.
But, if you harness these feelings correctly, they can be good! Why? Because they are incredibly motivating! Those gut-wrenching feelings are preparing you to take meaningful action.
But being ready to take action is different than actually taking action.
Because once you decide “it’s time to prepare,” – you immediately hit a MAJOR roadblock.
Which actions should you take first?
You’re ready, but now you’re overwhelmed and confused. Why? Because the amount of survival and preparedness information available today is STAGGERING…
There are hundreds of millions (or billions) of blog posts, thousands of courses and books, etc.
- Where should you begin?
- What should you do first?
- Which courses should you buy?
- Which membership or communities should you join?
- Who should you follow?
- Whose advice is trustworthy?
- Should you stockpile water or food first? And how much of each should you store?
- What about bugging out vs. hunkering down?
- What survival gear is Necessary vs. Optional?
- How much will this cost?
- Are there any cheaper alternatives?
- What if you can’t afford it?
These are all excellent questions. BUT NO ONE seems to have any clear answers. Just tons and tons of “random (sometimes contradictory) advice.”
I HEAR YOU, and I want to help YOU!
My name is Jack, and I’m the co-founder of two prominent websites in the survival and preparedness space.
I’ve been living and breathing preparedness my entire life. And I’ve been sharing my thoughts and advice online since 2013. Since that time, I’ve helped more than 10,158,350 people along the way.
And I get the same questions from those new to preparedness: “how do I get started”? What should I do first, second, third, etc.”?
So I decided to create a FREE Baby Step Preparedness guide to help you make wise decisions from day one.
By following the 10 BABY STEPS below, you’ll quickly stop being one of the “fragile masses.” (i.e., those who are 100% unprepared and utterly dependent on others when disaster strikes).
Instead, EACH Baby step moves you in the right direction – towards a more resilient lifestyle.
Once you’ve completed all 10 Baby Steps, you’ll have an excellent base of supplies, tools, and the confidence to survive most future disasters.
Now, these BABY steps ONLY focus on the very BASICS of preparedness. And there is so much more to preparation than just the basics.
But as with any new skill, you start with the basics first. Only then, once you’ve got the basics in place, do you move on to more advanced supplies, tools, and tactics.
Think of your journey to resilience, like building a house.
You need a rock-solid foundation in place before you build any walls. And you need walls before you can add a roof.
And hopefully, someday soon, you’ll become a member of the resilient few – Note: BABY STEP 10 has more information on how to move beyond the basics and towards mastery.
BABY STEP 1 – INVEST IN A “LAST RESORT” WARMTH TOOL – 1 PER FAMILY MEMBER
Note: feel free to skip if you live in temperate climate year-round
Right out of the gate, this first Baby Step is a bit controversial in the survival space.
Some survivalists suggest stockpiling water is your #1 priority. And for most disasters, that is 100% correct. Why? Because you can only survive about three days without water.
However, you won’t survive long in below-freezing temps without a way to stay warm. And this is possible in places like Michigan in mid-February if the power goes out.
That’s why I recommend you invest in one TACT Bivvy for every member of your household.
Now, if you have a wood stove or fireplace in your home and a nice pile of wood, you can consider skipping this one. But, if not, then get some TACT Bivvy’s.
They work by trapping your body heat (such as when you’re shivering uncontrollably). And it’s made of Mylar (which doesn’t allow any air particles (or heat) to pass through it).
Hopefully, you’ll never need a TACT Bivvy, but if you do, it could save your life.
BABY STEP 2 – A STOCKPILE OF 2 WEEKS OF WATER PER PERSON (assume 1 gallon per person per day)
Why two weeks? Why not more?
Because if you’re just starting, this amount of water is attainable within a short time frame.
Or, as I like to say, “It’s doable and affordable.”
Plus, it establishes the safety net for the majority of future disaster scenarios. Sure, it’s not enough for the long term “doomsday” scenario. However, with two weeks’ worth, you’re covered for the most likely disasters.
Many people ask me, “Why 1 gallon per person per day? That seems like MORE THAN NECESSARY…”
It might be, but here’s why I say 1 gallon per person per day:
1) I’d rather have slightly more water than not enough to make it two weeks. It’s hard to say how hot it might be (especially without an AC unit running). When it’s hot out your body needs more water to replace the loss of water due to sweating
2) You’ll also need water for both COOKING and SANITATION – so you’ll only be consuming about half the water you’re storing. You’ll use the other half for cooking meals and hygiene.
Now you could buy bottled water from the grocery store IF that’s the best you can do short term.
But, if you have the means, I recommend you get a quality set of water storage containers. I selected Legacy Storage’s water containers and if you’re interested in seeing what I did, feel free to read my step by step article here.
I’ve also wrote a blog post called 9 Best Water Storage Solutions and Mistakes To Avoid.
Once you’ve got your two weeks water stockpiled, it’s time to shift your focus on the next baby step – calories.
BABY STEP 3 – 2 WEEKS OF NON-PERISHABLE FOOD PER PERSON
Why two weeks? Why not more?
Because (like water), if you’re just starting out, is an amount of food that’s attainable within a relatively short time frame.
Again, it’s not nearly enough for a long term “doomsday” scenario. But with two weeks of calories per family member, you’ll survive most short term disasters.
Now, how do you decide how many calories equates to two weeks’ worth of food? I made this easy to use calorie chart to help:
For each family member – use the gender/age (across the side) and activity level (across the top) to get their approximate calorie per day number.
Then multiply that number by 14 (i.e., two weeks).
Finally, add up each family member’s two-week calorie needs.
You now have your entire family’s two-week calorie requirement!
Now you can either go one of two directions to stockpile calories:
- DIY (do it yourself)
- DFY (done for you)
DO IT YOURSELF
If you go the DIY route – you’ll be buying bulk sacks of rice and beans and acquiring lots of spices to make bland food palatable.
Plus, you’ll want to stock up on large jars of peanut butter – which are always a wise addition.
You could also make your own hardtack (which is a very long shelf life cracker).
For meat, you could make your own pemmican.
So as you can see, the DIY route is not quick OR easy. Because when you do it right, it takes a lot of time and energy.
If this sounds daunting, I suggest you take a shortcut, go with the Done For You (DFY) route.
DONE FOR YOU
Both companies have first-rate freeze-dried meals that are well packaged and can last 25+ years if stored in a cool, dry, vermin-free location.
You should also add some 25+ year canned meats to your survival pantry.
The bottom line is:
You MUST put some time and energy and funds into getting a two weeks supply of non-perishable foods into your pantry ASAP.
The sooner the better!
Sure, more food and water stockpiles will be a BIG focus once you’re finished with all 10 baby steps.
But, for now, it’s time to move onto the next baby step – how to cook this food without relying on your power company.
BABY STEP 4 – HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE COOKING METHOD READY
You can have all the rice, beans, or freeze-dried foods you want – but it’s NOT very useful if you CAN’T cook it.
You need a way to boil water as your most basic food prep.
Now, there are all sorts of advanced solutions to this issue, including:
- Wood cookstoves
- Solar ovens
- Backpacking stoves
And in a pinch, a backyard fire pit can work as well – but it’s not very efficient. You’ll go through a wood stockpile way too FAST that way.
So instead, I recommend investing in a rocket stove (one of the best ones for simple water boiling is the Eco-Zoom Versa).
So you can buy a rocket stove OR you can DIY and build your own.
But the bottom line is:
A rocket stove is the most efficient way to boil water using wood. Heck, you can use small twigs and sticks to boil water.
The key is to get the most heat from the least amount of fuel, and that’s EXACTLY what rocket stoves do.
Now you should also invest in some fuel to do with your rocket stove. DON’T assume you’ll be able to wander out to the woods after a disaster occurs.
So, make sure to stock enough firewood to cook two weeks’ worth of food you’ve stockpiled. This amount will depend on how large your family is.
BONUS – In a winter power outage, you can use your rocket stove to heat a small outdoor hut or shed. Just be very careful of burning wood inside a home or contained space. Not only is there the risk of starting a fire, but the fumes can accumulate and become toxic to breathe. But in a pinch, a rocket stove could save your fingers and toes from frostbite.
Note: Here’s an article I wrote about rocket stoves (it includes a few of the best ones on the market today plus some DIY ideas).
BABY STEP 5 – INVEST IN A HAND CRANK RADIO
This one is simple – invest in a quality hand-crank radio.
In any widespread disaster, where chaos is ruling the day, you CAN’T rely on electrical power. Because if the power goes out, how are you going to find out WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?
- Is it safe to go outside?
- Are more attacks happening? Where?
- IS the water supply compromised? Are roadblocks in place?
- Is the storm passed?
- Where is flooding the worst? Etc.
When the power is out, most electronic devices (TV’s, Computers, phones) won’t work.
That’s why you need to get a hand-crank radio.
It’s exactly what it sounds like – an AM/FM/Weather radio that includes a hand crank.
The hand crank allows you to generate your own power to charge the radio’s battery.
Plus, with some advanced models, you can use the hand crank to charge a phone as well.
A hand-crank radio is one of the BEST and first pieces of survival gear you should buy. Just make sure you buy a quality one since it may become your main life-line for information in a crisis.
NOTE: Here’s an article I wrote that reviews many of the best hand crank radios on the market today.
BABY STEP 6 – BASIC DEFENSE MEASURES (home & personal)
Now this one is a bit tricky because each person’s current situation is different. So I’m going to focus on what I consider the “bare minimum” for both home and self-defense.
Of course, the more defense measures, the better, but these are Baby Steps, so get these in place first, if you’re 100% fragile in these important defense categories.
Ideally, for personal defense, you’re trained to use firearms and have plenty of ammo to go with your sidearm of choice. And preferably, you also have some martial arts training as well.
But I consider both of those more advanced personal defense measures.
If you’re truly starting from scratch in the personal defense department, then I recommend you invest in a high-quality pepper spray.
They are proven to be a powerful deterrent to attackers.
They are also non-lethal and straightforward to use (just point and spray). Plus, you can easily carry a small canister of it just about anywhere.
I recommend a pepper spray called “Devil Juice” – it uses insanely HOT peppers, and it has a dominant spray pattern.
Plus, it’s the right size to neutralize several attackers, if necessary.
Home fortification can be a tricky topic to discuss. Everyone’s situation is so unique. For example, renters have fewer options than homeowners.
But I believe there are bare minimum strategies you must put place from a home defense – which includes:
Deadbolts and Basic Alarms
Deadbolts have proven to slow down forced entries significantly.
So with a deadbolt, a forced entry situation will take longer, and it will create more of a ruckus. Both time and noise are significant deterrents for thieves or bandits.
If you rent and don’t have deadbolts, I recommend you make a formal request to the landlord. In my opinion, it’s inexcusable for a landlord to be so cheap to refuse to install deadbolts.
NOTE: Most landlords will want to avoid the potential liability and install deadbolts if your formal written request includes the words: “I am concerned about my safety.”
These are tools you can put in place nightly or just keep for a future disaster. They’re an added layer of security when you’re frightened and want something extra to prevent a hostile break-in.
Plus, many of the doorstop or jammer bars include alarm triggers built-in. So not only are you securing your doors, they will alert you, and your neighbors should someone try to break-in.
Now for homeowners, ideally, you have deadbolts. And if you have the means, a basic alarm system.
You don’t need an expensive hard-wired system. I’ve installed a self-monitoring alarm system by Abode (here’s their starter kit) – it works great for my needs.
Also, I recommend installing motion-sensing lighting near ALL entryways – especially doors in a backyard area or ones with concealment nearby (fence, bushes, shed, etc.).
The bottom line is:
You must make it more of a challenge for someone to break in your home than your surrounding neighbors. That way, an intruder will likely move on to easier targets.
That’s the goal with this baby step – target hardening!
NOTE: Here’s an article I wrote about how to reinforce doors (which includes information about door stop alarms and door jammer bars – plus, so much more).
p.s. If you install motion-sensing lighting, make sure any potential intruder can’t just walk up to the bulb and twist it off. That’s why I like these ones with the integrated LEDs. Many modern light covers have open bottoms to allow downcast lighting, but you’ll want to modify the light cover to prevent this vulnerability. OR install a security floodlight high enough to prevent quick access.
BABY STEP 7 – BASIC MEDICAL SUPPLIES / KNOWLEDGE
It’s essential to keep a basic first aid kit in your home. AND you must be able to use the supplies in that first aid kit.
You can’t rely on your family doctor, urgent care, or the ER during a widespread disaster.
Why? Because first off, the emergency rooms may be full. Especially when you layer on a global pandemic like we are experiencing in 2020, causing ICUs to already be at full capacity.
OR, worst yet, it may be too dangerous to attempt a journey to get to them. And if things are bad enough, doctors and first responders may choose to stay at home. They will prioritize their own family’s safety instead of heading into the hospital.
Either way, just like power, you’re utterly fragile if you don’t have any medical supplies in your home.
That’s why you must learn basic first aid AND have the supplies you need to perform that first aid in a pinch.
I’ve reviewed both of these products, and I vouch for their quality.
Here are a few of the MyMedic kits you can choose from:
With these two resources in place, you’ll be ready to provide some basic medical care in a pinch. That’s a much more resilient way to live.
NOTE: Here’s an article I wrote about building your own survival medical kit (if you choose to go the DIY route instead).
BABY STEP 8 – INVEST IN A GAS MASK/FILTER
Now you may be thinking, “A Gas Mask? That sounds like an ADVANCED survival tool,” – but you’re wrong.
Why? Because if the air you breathe ever becomes toxic, without one, you’re screwed.
IF it’s a nasty chemical attack, you could be dead within a few hours. If it’s nuclear fallout, you’ll be dead in a few months or a few years…
Here’s a list of just a few of the disasters a gas mask is necessary to support your survival:
- Nuclear Attacks (fallout)
- Chemical Attacks (lots of air-based toxins)
- Out of Control Riots (tear gas – or worse)
- Super Volcanic Explosion (ash fallout)
- Deadly Pandemics (viruses)
- Wildfires (smoke/ash)
So I believe every household should own at least one gas mask (plus a couple of filters). Ideally, you’d get a gas mask for each family member – but the costs can go up quickly.
If you own at least one, then the rest of the family can remain hunkered down. Usually, you only need one person to leave home for supplies runs, etc.
It’s not ideal, but having at least one gas mask gives you a chance and MORE options in a worst-case scenario.
Now, I’ve spent hours and hours researching different gas masks and manufactures, and I’ve settled on two leading suppliers:
Both of these masks are high quality AND worth every penny.
You’ll need to buy at least one gas mask per family (feel free to buy one per person if you have the means to do so).
You’ll also want to buy AT LEAST two gas mask filters per mask.
NOTE: Here’s an extensive gas mask article I wrote if you have any questions or want to do even more research.
BABY STEP 9 – BUILD A BASIC BUG OUT BAG
If you’re new to preparedness, you’ll want to hunker down for most emergencies.
Why? Because leaving the safety of your home and supplies could end in disaster.
Most disasters will have an apex. There will be a ramp-up of chaos, but at some point, things will settle a bit, and a cleanup period will begin.
For these disasters, it’s safer to hunker down and wait things out.
However, with that said, there are disasters when hunkering down is NOT possible. Take a flood or fire, for example.
If your neighborhood is flooding or burning – it would be STUPID to stay.
That’s why everyone must put together a small go-bag or bug out bag—a bag filled with a few necessary supplies that’s ready to grab at a moment’s notice.
You’ll want to be able to grab your loved ones and your bug out bags and be out the door in under 1 minute.
Right now, don’t worry about having a bug out location – that’s for advanced survivalists…
Again, for now, you’re going to stay home unless the disaster forces you out. And if you’re forced out, get away from the path of danger and find some open land or campsite to wait things out.
Also, don’t assume your vehicle will be available. Sure, it probably will be for most disasters, but you must plan for the worst, and that means walking. So think about what’s the safest paths of travel to exit your neighborhood.
NOTE: Today should also be the day that you look at the ½ full mark on your gas tank as your new EMPTY as gas will be hard to come by in an emergency. It is always best to have at least a half tank of gas in your vehicle.
Finally, if you don’t have a bug out bag, I recommend the EVATAC Combat bag.
It’s got quality buckles, lots of compartments, a MOLLE strap system; it’s the right size (not too big or small).
It’s the bag I use for my bug out gear and supplies.
NOTE: Here’s my 104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist article – this will help give you some ideas on what to put into your Bug Out Bag. Just remember, this is an idealist – I DO NOT recommend you put EVERYTHING on the list in your bug out bag because it would quickly become TOO HEAVY.
BABY STEP 10 – BECOME PART OF THE RESILIENT FEW
Once you’ve completed Baby Steps 1-9, you’ve got a simple survival plan in place for all major categories.
- BUG OUT
So I want to say, “CONGRATULATIONS – your basic needs are taken care of for MOST future disaster that may last multiple weeks!
Take a deep breath and celebrate; this journey was likely a massive achievement for YOU!!
Yet, with that said, it’s NOT ENOUGH if you want to live a resilient life.
Sure, what you now have in place is better than nothing. But you’re still fragile to any epic disasters or ones that last more than just a few weeks.
But the good news is, NOW your ready move into advanced levels of preparedness.
You’re ready to begin your journey of creating a resilient life.
I’m talking about a life where most of your decisions and choices are to focus on reducing your fragility to life’s uncertainties.
For example –
- Having less debt and more cash makes you less fragile to financial crises (both personal and global).
- Creating a rainwater collection system to capture rain off your roof – gives you a “FREE” fresh supply of water should the taps ever run dry. A system like this makes you much less fragile to a shared municipal water delivery system.
- Build a side business to create resiliency in your career and cash flows.
- Growing a backyard garden adds resiliency to your life by providing food to your table, that’s not JUST from a grocery store.
These are just a few of the actions you can take to help reduce your fragility and increase your resiliency.
And as you become more resilient, you’ll likely find you’re a less stressed, calmer, happier, more fulfilled person. You’ll be proud of what you’ve accomplished, and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy life so much more.
Living a resilient life STARTs by reducing anxiety and stress. But once you get past the basics and join the resilient few – you’ll begin enjoying your life MORE.
I genuinely believe our modern culture of extreme luxury, and comfort is fragile. AND it’s NOT fulfilling or creating truly long-lasting satisfaction and happiness.
My answer to that is to The Resilient Life—a system I built to help you become the BEST, MOST confident, and PREPARED version of yourself.
A member of the “resilient few” who’s ready for WHATEVER storms of life come your way.