Sunday, May 5, 2013

Basic Prepping - What Is “Prepping”?


I was watching a cable show the other day – “Doomsday Preppers” – in fact I confess that I have watched it more than a few times. The format usually consists of three different “preppers” who are preparing to survive some perceived disaster – a massive EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) that destroys all things electronic along with the electrical grid; a complete financial meltdown a-la Greece with its accompanying social unrest; or some TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) event from a super-volcano eruption to a massive meteor strike.

While some take a simple approach – load up a backpack and get out of Dodge . . . . others have built a remote redoubt stocked with enough supplies, firearms and ammunition to provide for their survival for a year or more. Honestly, I have no problem with preppers – or prepping. It’s the “tone” of the shows that seems to show these folks as slightly “off their rockers” that I take issue with. I may well differ with their approach – I think it is only common sense that individuals and families “prepare” to withstand and survive an unexpected event – be it a severe storm or a mega-volcano.

I believe all tasks begin with a “foundation”. A skill set, a bank of knowledge that is needed to accomplish whatever task is before a person. “Prepping” is no different. There is a foundational set of knowledge that a person needs to acquire to “survive” an event – whether storm or catastrophe.

On the other end of the scale – “prepping” could easily take a person years to complete; building a remote, secure and self-reliant redoubt for example. Costs alone would prohibit most folks from completing a project of this size. I want to focus on shorter time periods; The “Laws of Three”, The 72-Hour Bag, The One-Week Prepper and The One-Month Prepper. They are the building blocks of your prepping efforts.

The “Laws of Three”: There are four distinct time periods that a person MUST survive or they will simply cease to exist.

· Three Minutes without air: If you cannot breathe for three minutes, your chances of breathing for a fourth diminish greatly. This is the minimal component of survival – air.

· Three Hours without shelter: If individual is exposed to an extremely harsh environment – be it -20F or +120F – for three hours or more, your possibility for seeing the next day dramatically decreases.

· Three Days without water: Water is the fluid of life. It lets everything “work”. Withhold this life giving liquid and it’s entirely possible you will return to the dust that gave you life.

· Three Weeks without food: Our bodies consume thousands of calories a day. It allows us to move, grow, work . . . . survive. Withhold this fuel – and we die. It’s that simple.

These timeframes are a prepper’s “starting point”. Breathing, securing water, securing shelter and securing food.

The 72-Hour Bag: This has been a niche that has developed over the past number of years. The idea is that this is your “get home bag”. You are away, an incident happens and you need a basic set of items to survive to return home in one piece. My resistance to this bag is two-fold. From a “must have” level – this is really just a comfort bag. You can easily survive 3-days with little or no food. Water, that’s another matter – food, not so much.

My second level of resistance is that a lot of folks are lulled into a sense of security by the fact that they “have their 72-hour bag” – they’re set!! Again, not so much. A simple review of storm related news stories of the past few years can easily show that survival environments can last well over the 72-hour time frame. A prudent man/woman, a prudent mother/father, a prudent family “prepares for the worst and hopes for the best”.

All that said – there is value in a well stocked 72-hour bag. I’ve had one packed in my Jeep Wrangler for years, I regularly rotate the stock and will use the stock for short weekend training trips to refine my skill set.

The One-Week Prepper: A “One-Week Module” is a great starting point for long-term survival. The primary components of these modules are food and water – that simple. The development of the “One-Week Module” revolves around three meals a day, some comfort food (hard candy, hard chocolate, drink mixes) and enough water to prepare each day’s meals and to provide each person in the module a minimum of a gallon of water per day – much more if the climate is exceptionally hot.

Preparation in advance allows each “One-Week Module” to be thought out, a complete meal plan prepared, all items accounted for and everyone in the group completely familiar with proper preparation and storage.

This is your building block – one of your foundation’s building blocks. It can easily be expanded and grown to a longer-term prepper time period.

The One-Month Prepper: The “One-Month Module” teeters on the edge of long-term prepping. Preparing the basics of this module is as simple of creating four One-Week Modules. This will assure you of food and water to keep body and soul together. But, we are on the edge of other considerations; long-term physical security, replacement of consumables – batteries, fuel, clothing, food past one month. It is at this point that a civilized society, deprived of the “basics” – electricity, potable water, food deliveries – things begin to go off the rails.

Other decisions need to be made at this point as well. What is your physical security? Do you need to leave? Do you have a firm destination in mind? Can you get there? Do you have enough fuel? Can you defend yourself, your friends, and your family? These are big decisions – not to be considered or decided lightly.

Yet, even at this point, there are elements to your “foundation” that span the entire range of levels – from the “Rules of Three” through “The One-Month Prepper”. These are basic skills everyone should learn. We’re going to talk about them one at a time. They aren’t difficult, they aren’t tricky. They were part of daily life for my parents and grandparents – they have simply been forgotten. We are going to re-learn a core. Enough to insure that you have a starting point to prepping.

It is not the purpose of these blog entries to turn you into a professional prepper. It’s not to imply that once you have learned the skill set that I believe is important that there’s nothing else to learn – far from it. Still, you have to start somewhere. You need to learn “Just the Basics”. It’s not difficult. You just need to get started. So . . . .

. . . . I’m going to be incorporating “Prepper” posts to this firearms blog. There will be an added heading to the right under “Prepping” and the title will have a tag – “Basic Prepping” to help separate out the posts. Let me know what you think - feedback is always welcome.


  1. Excellent explanations! Lookin' forward to hearing more. We've got our 72-hour kits stashed in our trucks, and have the camping gear, extra water, and some long-term food (rice, beans, etc) set aside in our garage, but are always looking at tips/tricks to help refine our gear. Wish we could afford the redoubt in the wilderness somewhere, but that's not in this year's budget. Or next year's. Or the year after. Or the one after that. Or....

    One thing I keep running across are dead-tree books, books on edible/medicinal plants (if anyone needs a solid diet of leafy greens, my yard can support a small community for several years on dandelions alone), how-to homestead books on everything from building cabins and planting fields to trapping and skinning to making soap and canning veggies and washing/mending clothes using washboards etc. Do you have any favorite reference books (out of print, modern, etc) that you keep handy for those "oh crap" moments?

  2. Love the concept. Can't wait for the posts.

  3. Rabid - sounds like you have a plan. Honestly that's more than most. As for books - Any of the Boy Scout Merit Badge books of First Aid, Wilderness Surivial, Emergency Preperation, Orienteering are good places to look along with their Handbook. You can also get the original 1911 Handbook, well worth a read. I like FM-23, the Army Field Manual on Survival. As you say, there is so much available . . . read it all??? :)

    Murph - Thanks, I have the outline of topics done - now for the data and the post. That's the fun part for me!

  4. Awww Shelby - doin' that blush thing again! :) May have another chunk of reading for you by the end of June? Hint, hint.