Prepping Is a Lifestyle, Not an Event

November 11, 2013 by | Be the first to comment »

Prepping is a lot like investing. Both depend on a series of small consistent steps over time rather than one big event.

You can’t successfully prepare for a disaster or hard times by just buying 10 years worth of food and water, a back-up power supply, weapons and ammo, and a library of survival books any more than you can successfully invest in  your retirement by dumping $500,000 into your 401k and hoping for the best. You need the right gear and supplies, but you also need first-hand knowledge that can only be learned by trial and error—and this takes time.

Becoming self-reliant is a lifestyle that depends on continuously investing in equipment and supplies while learning new skills and remaining proficiency in existing ones. Though it’s rarely talked about in our community, there are some things you’ll realize as you enter the world of prepping. It’s up to you to decide how they impact your life, if you believe the benefit outweighs the cost in terms of time, effort, and money, and whether you have the discipline to push through the inevitable challenges you’ll face throughout the process.

Prepping is expensive

Many people have a hard enough time keeping up with day-to-day expenses, so it’s no surprise how few have the resources to quickly acquire and store excess food, not to mention weapons, ammunition, equipment, and other supplies. Unless you have very deep pockets, you’ll have to prepare in small increments over time. Buy a little extra canned food each time you go shopping, weapons and ammunition when you find a good deal, a back-up generator with your tax return—you get the idea.

The key is to buy value, not price. Get what you can afford, and upgrade only after other areas of your preparation are sufficient. Think beyond what you find interesting; you need to cover all aspects of self-reliance: food, water, weapons, ammunition, back-up power, first aid, communications, tools and equipment. This progress is exciting for most people at first, but sticking with it can take serious discipline. When it comes down to either investing in the large-scale water storage system you know you need, or taking that cruise you’ve always dreamed about, the choice can be tough.

Start with the least you’ll need to get by, and as finances allow, acquire more supplies and equipment, increasing your self-reliance and comfort over time.

Prepping takes practice

Every aspect of prepping starts with learning a skill, practicing it until you become proficient under a variety of circumstances, and then maintaining the skills you’ve learned. Over time, the latter will become the most challenging, because the more skills you acquire, the more difficult it is to maintain peak proficiency in all of them.

Building a garden, for example, is a great way to become more self-reliant, but turning theory into action is a lot more difficult than you might think. The United States alone has over a dozen plant hardiness zones based on temperature that determine the length of your growing period and which plants are most likely to thrive in your location. When you take into account factors like the proper amount of sunlight and water, soil composition, and pest control, you’ll likely kill dozens of plants over several growing seasons long before you develop a productive garden.

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you become proficient. Anything worth becoming proficient at is worth staying proficient at.

Prepping requires space

Food takes up a lot of space. You can store foods like beans, rice, and wheat in 5-gallon buckets, sealed in Mylar bags with O2 absorbers, and while this is a relatively compact storage method, it still requires a significant amount of space. A single 5-gallon bucket holds about one month worth of food in a (roughly) 12″ wide by 16″ tall package. That means a one year supply of this type of food alone for just one person will take up over 16 cubic feet.

Water takes up even more space. FEMA recommends a bare minimum of 1 gallon per person per day; that’s at least 30 gallons per person for a one month supply.

This means you’ll have to give up some storage space to make room for your equipment and supplies. Your garage and/or shed is fine for things like tools, generators, and even water, but temperature fluctuations, specifically heat, will dramatically shorten the shelf-life of all types of food. This doesn’t mean that your living room needs to look like an episode of Hoarders though. There is plenty of space to store food inside the average home that most people don’t even realize, such as:

  • Under beds
  • Behind couches
  • Inside the cold air return
  • In a basement
  • Under the stairs
  • Inside an ottoman
  • In your entertainment center
  • Behind bookshelves or dressers
  • Inside closets
  • Utility room
  • The space in a corner cabinet

Prepping is a team effort

The “lone wolf” survival strategy is a myth; you’re not going to survive long if you slap on a bug out bag and disappear into the woods by yourself. First, most Americans live in urban or suburban areas, so escaping to remote wilderness is out of the question. Second, most people aren’t in the shape necessary to carry their own gear for more than a few miles even in gentle terrain. Third, living off the land is virtually impossible because there just isn’t enough wild food (plants or animals) in most places in America.

A better approach is to build your own neighborhood into a self-sustaining community. Share some of your small livestock, eggs from your chickens or ducks, or food from your garden with your neighbors and teach them how to produce their own to become more self-reliant. Introduce them to firearms; take them shooting, and gently persuade them to arm themselves and take responsibility for their own safety. Find out what skills everyone has and work to ensure each person works on expanding their skills while acting as a facilitator, bringing people with specific needs together with people who have the skills to meet those needs. Learn to see each other not only as resources, but also as friends because friends are more likely to come together in a crisis.

Prepping is a one-way road

Prepping is not about running off into the woods to live off twigs and berries. It’s simply about becoming more self-reliant—knowing that you can depend on yourself and your local community.

Every day, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people realize they need prepare for disasters and day-to-day dangers, and can’t they rely on the government. Those who have started down this path rarely change course. Becoming self-reliant is a tough, long-term process with lots a trial and error, but once you’ve achieved measurable success, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll suddenly decide this whole “being prepared” thing is a fad and go back to your previous carefree life—especially once you’ve faced a crisis.

Once your eye are open, it’s pretty damn hard to shut them again. Danger surrounds each of us everyday, no matter how ordinary we may think our lives are, and it’s just waiting  for the perfect opportunity to bitch slap us. This could be anything from natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, or man-made problems like home invasions, riots, or an economic collapse.

Prepping isn’t an event you check off and say you’re done, it’s a lifestyle that demands constant attention and growth.

Melanie Swick (a.k.a. Survival Chick) grew up wanting to be a rocket scientist, but when she realized she that required way too much math, she took to her second dream—spending time in the wilderness. Today, when she's not hiking, camping, or hunting, she's blogging about it. You can connect with Melanie on Facebook.

Was this info helpful? Share it with your friends!

Share Your Thoughts...

Leave a Reply: