The Newbie's Perspective to Prepping

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The Newbie's Perspective to Prepping
by "Elrik"

Have you ever sat around the lunch table with your friends and discussed what you would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse? Maybe you did it before zombies were so "mainstream" and referred to as "walkers" thanks to The Walking Dead. Or maybe you've had that conversation thanks to that show, or something like it? It's even possible you've had those "end of days" discussions because you're a gamer, and games like Fallout exist which give you a hard look at a fantastic post-nuclear war America.

The Newbie

The point is, even if you don't think those conversations meant much, or that those are just crazy ideas...That's not entirely the case. See there exists an entire community of people around the U.S. at least called preppers. Now these people, at this point you might have seen them on the Discovery channel, watched them as a novelty and thought how crazy they must seem. But weren't you just at lunch last week talking about if you had to survive in a zombie wasteland?

Let me try and put a more personal perspective on this...
I'm a 24 year old college dropout, who delivers pizza part-time while I try to find a 40 hour job that doesn't involve spending time in a factory. And yes, when I was in high school from 2006-2010 I had those conversations about zombies and what my friends and I would do, I watched the first season of TWD and thought it was a bada** show, and I've been playing video games since I was about 7. So I've had all of those conversations that I'm sure some people at this point in their lives would be a little embarrassed to admit to.

Just to try and illustrate how outlandish some of the ideas that can spawn from those conversations are...I am to a point still a Halo fan, I remember a couple years back I was watching the live action stuff that was out, and I ended up thinking to myself," can't be that hard to put together a Spartan armor set. At least for more practical use." But...what's a practical use for super soldier's armor that looks like it's pieced together from motocross pieces with an exo-skin layer? Well if I had to take a stab in the dark like I did when I conceived the idea and thought I was being original? Survival. In a Fallout wasteland you need power armor to be protected from the elements (radiation included) and all the varmints (six, four, or two legged). Now motocross padding and under armor brand underclothing isn't going to protect you from radiation, bullets and wild dogs, but at the time I thought the idea had some merits...At least til you have to find a bush to turn into a bathroom haha.

The Newbie

Setting some jokes aside though, that is, at the barest of bones a prepper mindset. "Hm, if zombies attacked id...", "I think if Fallout were real..." etc. Now I'm not telling you to act on that mindset, because chances are you're like me and if you try to act on it, you won't know which direction to go first, or even which direction is up. Like having a blindfold ripped off your eyes to find you're on a boat in the middle of a lake that your friends just threw you in...And you don't know how to swim.

I'll echo some sound advice given to me. First, breathe. There is no need to go 90 in a 35 like I was when I first joined this community. I spent the majority of this past year floundering as I was exposed to different preparation mentalities through youtube and a friend of mine. I did at some points feel like I was drowning simply because, I didn't (and still don't) have certain kinds of guns, because I don't have any rations stored up, no fuel or water system set up, no medication stocked outside of things for everyday use. Realizing all of this, I would get stressed repeatedly, I needed first aid kits, I needed MRE rations, I needed more bullets, heck I needed more guns.

Don't make the same mistake I did, once I was "slapped awake" as a clever fellow forumite put it, I felt like I needed to grab every gun and box of ammo left and right of me that I could, and I tried to. I scrambled and panicked and stressed out just because of guns and ammo....

Again, just breathe. Take a minute and relax. Remind yourself, the world isn't ending now, the world isn't ending tomorrow. And if it for some reason does, refer yourself back to something like The Walking Dead, your on screen heroes are not preppers, they aren't actual heroes either. They're just a group of people that have survived by planning accordingly to the situations that they've found themselves in. However if you feel like making a plan, prepping for a situation that could cause an "end of days" or as preppers say SHTF (Sh*t hit the fan) situation, whether that be a government collapse, civil unrest/war or we do get bombed or invaded by zombies or aliens. Well then first of all, welcome to the community!

From one noob to another I have to tell you, the best advice next to slowing down and don't try and figure it all out at once is this, assess your situation.

Do you have a family? People that if you tried to leave home as a group would slow you down? Then you should probably try and fortify your home instead of striking out into the unknown. If that applies to you, and you have the space for it, then you should also be trying to figure out a way to create a sustainable food source, and of course water. Maybe you have room for a garden, or a farmhouse where you can start with some chickens. If you do that's great! But if you're like me and you live in the awkward suburb area of a rural town, you probably don't have a lot of space for things like that.

Or are you someone who doesn't have any attachments to your current home? If that's the case and you feel more comfortable striking out into the unknown, then the suggestions there are a little easier to take. Especially if you're experienced in hiking in the wild, then you're halfway there! Most of the advice I've been able to gather in the sense of bugging-out as it's referred to, is that you should be able to carry everything that you need to survive. Obviously food and water again, but water can be a bit hard to lug around right? Well as I said if you're someone who takes nature trips already then you're more familiar with things like purification tablets and what I believe are called carbiners, which is what I think the Life Straw is supposed to be. Outside of food and something to safely use local water with, you want first aid, and even though it may sound ridiculous a day or two of change of clothes. Which, upon hearing myself I thought sounded a little ridiculous.
But think about it, have you ever spent a day working in the yard, greased up under a car or just generally doing hands on work? And afterwards you don't go shower or change clothes because you're just too tired? Then by the end of the night your clothes just feel sort of crusty and you'd rather be exposed to elements than sit in those sweaty rags? That's why you want extra clothes.

Now for the record I want to reiterate. I'm not experienced with this stuff. I've been actively trying to prep and learn more about it for about the past four months. But I'm no more experienced than the noobs who may be reading this.

But I digress from my shortcomings, just remember they are there, if you want more information. Try talking to some of those people you used to think were crazy old fools with a book full of conspiracy theories in a bomb shelter basement. They're onto something.

Last on the list of tools for prepping, physical tools that is, outside of food, water, shelter, first aid, and actual tools that you may want to add to a kit, is a firearm. That's right a gun, you didn't think you'd go all the way through an article on prepping without discussing weapons did you? The fact is, even preppers don't know what to prep for, keep the list broad because anything can happen. Christmas could come this year and the earth could split open with the armies of Hell coming to take over the world for all we know haha.

The way I see it, you can't plan what Sh*z is going to hit the fan, and you can't conceivably plan for every little thing, you'd spend the rest of your life doing it. My suggestion would instead be, make that basic plan, bug-out with a stable pack, or bug-in with a well preserved system. But don't fool yourself into thinking you won't need a gun. No matter what the situation ends up being, if it comes in our lifetime, you may need to go hunting, then you need a rifle preferably. You may find yourself face to face with someone who's threatening your life, well you may want a gun in that situation too.

Trust me, I struggled with a two stage plan of first bugging-in then bugging-out. That I couldn't pull together because the three other people I needed to plan for, plus a dog, just a bit too much in the way of supplies needed to carry. I still tried to justify a way to piece together my little "Power armor" idea too...But I make $8 an hour at a pizza shop on part-time hours, even if I was dead set on doing something as extravagant as that I'd hardly be able to afford it, especially needing to focus on the more essential parts of a system. Which, take time in gathering and setting up.

I may be wrong in this article. And if there are any prepper noobs out there that read this, don't take another noob's word as law. Talk to the people around you, get involved in the conversation online. Remember I'm new to this too. There is a lot to learn, it's practical knowledge believe it or not. Maybe you know someone who is a prepper and you dismissed them, but you're curious now. That's okay. Go back, ask them questions, talk to people about prepping, because if you can't ask questions you can't learn anything. No matter how many negative things you may have heard about the community. They are kind, supportive, and want you to learn how to care for yourself and potentially those around you.

I invite you to join us online and urge you to talk to those around you, because they can teach you more than I ever could trying to sum up my fumbles in the learning process in a single article.

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November 21, 2016  •  09:16 AM
Great Start, Elrik... You've done the first and most important thing, realized that you need to approach this methodically.
Now the hard work begins LOL
November 21, 2016  •  11:43 AM
As someone who did Emergency Management and Planning for years, start a little closer to home with things that can impact for prepping. An example I always use was the flood we had years ago. Whole communities were isolated. The power was still on. The cable TV still worked. They just couldn't go anywhere. Prepping is making sure you have what you need to survive the small and the large disasters.
November 21, 2016  •  11:43 PM
In order of importance: Water, food, shelter, protection(guns, knives, bows, crossbows...). You can live 3 days without water, weeks without food, months without shelter, and forever without protection of you hide well!

Get a good bulk water filter like a Berky for home use, and I carry a Katadyn in my truck in case I end up walking.

Food is 2 categories, stay home and have to take with. At home buy what you like to eat in bulk! I have 5 gallon buckets of rice, pasta, instant potatoes, beans... cans of tuna and soup... stuff I use a lot of so I buy it in bulk on sale. Rotate your stock and make sure you DATE everything you buy! Bulk stuff I break down into 1 pound bags I vacuum seal. That keeps bugs out of the rice and pasta! I grind my own flour for bread so I also keep 3-4 buckets of wheat on hand that I get from a local organic grower.

Add in canned meats like pork, chicken, and beef(Keystone brand for all three), Spam for shelf stable and pack a freezer with beef and chicken.

For your freezer and no power scenario make sure you have enough fuel(wood, propane etc) and canning jars to pressure can every bit of meat in your freezer just in case. Good source for cheap jars is Craigslist, Goodwill etc. Buy lids in bulk and extra bands(they do rust out at times).

So far everything I have named will fit in a large closet or in my case I use my 10x10 foot walk in pantry with metal shelving.

I also keep a bunch of empty 1 gallon water jugs on hand. If I suspect things are going bad or we may be power down for a long time I can fill 100+ jugs and stash them. The water will need filtering if stored to long and the jugs will form leaks after time but 100 gallons of water is 100 days of survival! Don't forget that the water in any canned veggies you buy/pressure can is a source of nutrient rich drinking water!

Make sure you have a LOT of salt on hand also! I buy bulk bags of salt meant for dairies and do the 5 gallon bucket thing. Salt is a meat preservative! Salted and dried meat aka jerky can extend the life of your freezer meat also! I also keep 20 pounds of pink salt AKA curing salt on hand and a chart of how much to use for what in teaspoons and ounces(scale battery may die, scale may die... that is why teaspoons for measurement as backup). Meat curing can preserve your food without refrigeration but it MUST be done right so you don't nitrate poison yourself or end up with botulism in the meat!

Shelter can be many things, your current home can be made to look abandoned by tossing old clothing all over the yard, bust out and board up some windows(plastic sheeting inside to keep weather out! Make it looked trashed so nobody is interested in stopping if they walk by. Plastic sheeting can also be used to setup sick rooms to help slow the spread of any infectious diseases, to seal off a room to stop fallout entry etc. It can also be used for temporary on the run shelters!
December 4, 2016  •  10:02 PM
Hi Elrick, I too am really a noob when it comes to prepping. I actually only got serious about it about 6 months or so ago. During the election,(Hillary vs: Trump). I realized then that if the SHTF that I would need a plan to survive. And not knowing what to do having no experience in this my first thought was to protect myself and wife from any harm. Hence I am now the owner of 8 different weapons ranging from 3 attack rifles to 5 different types of pistols with about 2,000 rounds for them. I then proceeded to procure about 3 months worth of long term storage food that has a shelf life of 25 years and a water purification system that can deliver up to 5,000 gallons of purified water before I need to procure more filters for the system. And in case my power goes out which I live in an all electric home, I even bought a portable mini stove which burns tablets that lasts approximately 7-8 minute at a temp of about 1100 degrees. I have enough tablets to last right now for about 2 meals a day for about 3 months. And having a medical background, not a doctor but having been trained as a First Responder, EMT and now working as an Nursing Assistant in a hospital for an In and Out Surgery Department/PACU with a major Trauma Center that has 36 operating rooms and 4 specialty procedure rooms I have made sure I have a proper first aid kit to deal with most incidents. And even with all this as I read and listen to others I am nowhere near having that complete survival equipment needed to survive a disaster. You see even with all my training and medical supplies I never even thought of or worried about antibiotics or meds to deal with serious viruses or medical conditions that would require intervention to survive. And unfortunately because I am not a doctor I will not be able to procure them to add to my little fortress for future use. I still have a lot to learn about this and hopefully with the right sources I can gain an advantage and be better prepared if the SHTF for real.