Prepping Checklist | Prepping for Beginners Supplies & Guide

January 20, 2022 14 min read

Prepping Checklist | Prepping for Beginners Supplies & Guide

Prepping is a lifestyle. In the blink of an eye, chaos can break out and throw you out of your everyday routine. When this happens, people panic trying to prepare for the event after the fact.

Those who aren't panicking took the necessary steps to prepare for these events ahead of time. Learn how to start the process of prepping for beginners without all the overwhelm and confusion.

 In this article, we detail how you can begin the process of prepping for beginners. Specifically, we will talk about the essential beginner prepper checklist and situational prepping for various natural disasters that may affect your livelihood depending on where you live. You can also download a printable version of the survival guide.

 

How to Start Prepping for Beginners 

 

be prepared

 

As a beginner in the prepping world, you must start with a solid foundation. This means you need to understand and prepare for any emergency. Some situations will be evergreen and standard for all preppers.

Other situations will be more specific to where you live and the events that can take place. For example, living on the west coast, wildfires are much more likely than if you live in the midwest.

The same goes for living in a coastal state like Florida. The chances you will experience a hurricane are much higher than a blizzard. Below we detail six basic steps for prepping as a beginner that will start you on the right path.

 

The Beginner Prepper Checklist

 

  1. Build a solid 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 bag list”).
  4. Prepare for emergencies that happen while you are away from home (“get home bags” and everyday carry).
  5. Learn core survival skills and practice with your gear.
  6. Share and recruit while continuing to learn and going beyond the basics.

 

1. How to Prep a Solid Foundation

 

As a beginner in prepping, building a solid foundation is the first step on your journey. To build a solid foundation as a prepper you need to start by stocking up on a few everyday essentials.

We like to refer to these items as evergreen products. Evergreen products are water reserves, emergency food, first aid kits, hygiene products, and sanitation supplies. These are the first products every beginner prepper should start with.

 

Food Prepping

 

valley food storage long term food storage buckets

 

The first thing any beginning prepper should start to stock is healthy survival food. Emergency food is dehydrated or freeze-dried food that has a long shelf life which is an excellent part of survival checklist. This is food that you shouldn’t consider eating until absolutely necessary.

Emergency food can be the difference between panicking and peace of mind. Therefore, we recommend starting out by storing at least two weeks of emergency food. More seasoned preppers often have 6-24 months worth of food stored.

Yet, the more emergency food you stock, the longer it will last and the better prepared you will be. Here at Valley Food Storage, you can find emergency food like survival kits, freeze-dried meats, and freeze-dried fruits and vegetables.

Knowing how much food to prepare ahead of time is vital for survival.  The amount of calories a person needs to remain healthy depends on age, sex, activity level, and body type. 

Younger adults and kids typically require more calories because their bodies are still actively growing. As you age, you need to consume fewer calories. 

On average, men consume more calories than women. This is because the average body type and size of males is larger than the average for women. 

Your activity level also affects how many calories you should consume. Typically,  the more active you are, the more calories you should consume. So, for example, in a bug-out situation, you will need to eat more food than if you are hunkering down and bugging in. 

 

How to Prep Water for Beginners

 

rain water collecting in a rain barrel

 

The next thing every beginner prepper should stock up on is water. Stocking up on water is as important as stocking up on emergency food. You won't make it very long without food or water when disaster strikes.

Food and water are always the first two products that disappear at stores, making it crucial to have your own stockpile. For example, when starting your water stock, you need to stock two types of water. 

The first should always be clean drinking water that will last at least two weeks. This means keeping 14 gallons of water stored away. We based this on the daily average water consumption for humans. 

Collected rainwater is the second type of water you should be storing. Collected rainwater is a great way to store lots of water in rainwater barrels. 

The first way to use rainwater is by purifying the water to drink. You would want to do this once you run out of your normal stock of emergency water. The second use for collected rainwater is to replace your running water. For example, collected rainwater is great for cooking food, washing dishes, watering the garden, washing clothes, and doing other household chores. 

During infrastructure failure running water is one of the first things to fail. You can read more about collecting rainwater, harvesting, and purifying in our blog about how collecting rainwater can help you survive. 

 

Prepping for First Aid

 

first aid prep

 

Another essential evergreen product for beginners is first aid supplies. During emergencies, hospitals often become overwhelmed, and wait times increase. When this happens, you need to be capable of managing injuries yourself while you wait for care. This means knowing how to treat cuts against infection or how to split broken bones. Below is a list of first aid supplies recommended by the Red Cross.

  • Bandages
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Adhesive tape
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Gauze pads
  • Leg splint
  • Arm splint
  • Latex gloves
  • Emergency blanket
  • First aid guide

Besides collecting the tools you will need to perform first aid, it’s also a great idea to gain the skills you will need also. 

Chances are that well-seasoned preppers who have been prepping for years already have the first aid skills necessary to provide medical care in an emergency. However, beginner preppers might not. That is why signing up for basic first aid and CPR training with the Red Cross could make you a hero when minutes matter.  

 

How to Prep Hygiene and Sanitation for Beginning Preppers

 

cleaning supplies in a pantry

 

Hygiene and sanitation products are products beginners should stock up. These products are anything that you use to keep your personal hygiene in check or keep a clean home.

These products can be hard to find or get to in emergencies, depending on the type of emergency. Therefore, we recommend keeping a stockpile of all the hygiene products you use in your bathroom.

These include soap, hair products, feminine hygiene products, dental care, toiletries, and hand soap. This will reduce the chances of your personal health declining. We also believe it is crucial for beginners to keep a stockpile of cleaning supplies.

Keeping a cleaning supply stock is crucial for lowering the spread of disease. The dirtier your home is, the higher the chance for disease to spread. In addition, as we mentioned earlier, hospitals are overcrowded in emergencies.

Keeping a clean house lowers the chance of getting sick and keeps you away from crowded hospitals.

 

 2. Get Ready for Two Weeks of Self-Reliance

 

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it may take weeks, even months, to get back to everyday life. That is why we recommend preparing yourself to be self-reliant for a minimum of two weeks, if not longer. 

 

For example, if your food reserves will not last multiple weeks, you need to have a plan to get more food. Hunting, fishing, trapping, and foraging for food are all essential skills to remain self-reliant. 

 

Likewise, for water, it’s vital to have a plan to continue collecting and treating water if the water you prepped ahead of time runs out. We recommend having at least two different strategies for collecting and treating water.

  

3. Be Able to Bug Out With Only a Moment’s Notice

 

In certain scenarios, the most intelligent decision may be to evacuate or bug out. For example, imagine a hurricane bearing down on your home located in a flood-prone area. The best decision, in this case, is to evacuate to higher ground and wait out the storm in a safer location. 

To evacuate efficiently and to remain prepared while on the go, you need to have a bug-out bag. Typically, a bug-out bag is a backpack filled to the brim with different survival necessities that help you stay fed, hydrated, and generally more comfortable throughout your evacuation.

As you begin to build out your bug-out bags, consider these tips.

  • Everyone in the family should have their bug-out bag and know exactly where it’s located. 
  • Bug-out bags should contain a reserve of fresh drinking water and ready-to-go food, along with other survival equipment.
  • The equipment you pack into your bug-out bag should be lightweight and travel-sized.  
  • Your bug-out bags should be stored in a cool and dry location. For example, you can wrap yours in a trash bag and keep them in a specific plastic tote in the garage.

Start building your own bug out bag with our bug out bag essentials checklist.

 

4. Prep for Emergencies that Happen Away From Home

 

Ideally, you will know ahead of time when sh*t is about to hit the fan (SHTF). But realistically, you never know when disaster may strike. That is why it’s essential to be prepared, no matter your location. 

For example, think about leaving your home to run an errand, and in that time, an earthquake strikes. In this scenario, you may not be able to return home right away. But, in this case, you’ll be glad you prepped emergency supplies in your car.

For those of us who travel often or frequently commute to and from work, prepping a bug-out bag in your high water vehicle is a critical step in being properly prepared. 

Here are some recommendations to consider for your travel-sized bug-out bag.

  • Have a change of clothes just in case you are caught in your work attire.  
  • Prep a backup pair of comfortable shoes if you need to change out of sandals, high-heels, or formal dress shoes.
  • Consider alternate routes back to your home or bug-out location in case your main route is impassable. 
  • Design a communication plan ahead of time with your family back home just in case you cannot get home quickly.

5. Learn Core Skills, Practice With Your Gear & Maintain Your Equipment To Prep

 

Being adequately prepared for any disaster imaginable does not just mean hoarding food, water, and equipment until every empty space in your home is filled with emergency supplies.

 

On the contrary, being adequately prepared means having the correct amount of supplies, knowing where they are located, and having the skills to utilize them efficiently. Not to mention also keeping them maintained, so your supplies are ready no matter how long it has been since you started prepping.    

 

You’ve all probably heard the age-old proverb, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” 

 

This proverb reminds us we ought to stay active with our prepping. For example, we don’t just want to collect tuna cans and water. We also want to practice the skills to fish for tuna and to collect water from the wild. We want to be able to cook food in unsavory conditions and build shelters that keep us warm and dry. We want to possess the skills, not just the tools, to remain completely self-reliant. 

Learn Core Skills

  • Hunting, fishing, trapping, and foraging
  • Fire building 
  • Survival shelter construction 
  • Water collection and treatment
  • Orienteering 

Practice With Your Gear

  • Cook on a camp stove
  • Practice pitching your tent 
  • Navigate and orienteer with a map and compass
  • Grow a garden
  • Practice making a fire utilizing different techniques

Maintain your Equipment 

  • Check for expiration dates on your food and medications
  • Label and organize your emergency supplies
  • Replace dead batteries 
  • Store your supplies in an area that is protected from water damage and rodents

6. Share and Connect with Other Preppers

 

Prepping for emergencies and disasters can feel like it’s you against the world. But that couldn't be farther from the truth. In reality, there is an entire network and community of like-minded preppers who are passionate about remaining self-reliant and protecting their families just like you.

 

Nowadays, the internet is a wealth of knowledge. For example, there are a ton of helpful blogs and Youtube channels that can help you begin prepping. Similarly, there are groups of preppers who enjoy working together and sharing their knowledge about prepping. 

 

Situational Prepping for Beginners

 

firefighter doing his job

 

We mentioned earlier that depending on your geographical location, you would experience different disasters. The following paragraphs detail how beginners should prepare for various disasters.

The disasters that vary by location are wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes. Each disaster is different, and the way you prepare is too. Yet, the evergreen products we listed will still be essential for any of these disasters. 

To properly prep for the natural disaster that most likely affects you, it’s important to specialize in your prepping process and equipment. For example, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, the extra clothing you will want to prep will probably need to be lightweight and waterproof. On the other hand, folks who are concerned about blizzards probably want to prep extra heavy jackets, socks, and gloves. 

Prepping for a specific type of natural disaster that is likely to impact where you live is very important. However, there are some events, like preparing for inflation or grocery store food shortages that affect a wider area besides just specific geographical regions. 

 

Prepping for Wildfire

 

wildfire in a brush

 

If you live on the west coast, you will likely encounter wildfires. These fires aren't limited to the west coast yet, but they happen the most in that region. As a beginner in the prepping world, you need to be ready to encounter a disaster like a wildfire. And the best way to be ready for a disaster is to prepare.

Wildfires move rapidly and therefore are hard to contain. Because of this, you must prepare to flee when the fires get too close to your home. This means keeping an emergency, or bug-out bag prepped and ready to go.

This bag should contain enough supplies to get you and your family from your home to a safe location. That means at least two days' worth of food, water, first aid, and hygiene products.

These supplies should not replace your emergency food, and your emergency destination should still have a stock of evergreen prepping products.

To properly prepare for a wildfire, you need to secure the six P’s. 

    1. People and pets- ensure everyone in the family is present and accounted for, including your precious pets.
    2. Phone numbers and essential documents- communication with other family members, doctors, and emergency personnel is vital during a wildfire evacuation scenario. 
  • Prescriptions, vitamins, and eyeglasses- you should not have to sacrifice your health and well-being because you’ve evacuated from your home. 
      1. Pictures and significant memorabilia- 
  • Personal computers and other necessary technology- preserving your computers and other important devices will help you remain connected and access the internet. 
  • Plastic, i.e., credit cards, ATM cards, and cash- after evacuating, having your credit or ATM cards, or cash will allow you to book a hotel and buy food and water. 
  • Hurricane Prepping

     

    cargo ship our in the ocean

     

    Beginner prepping for a hurricane is like a beginner prepping for wildfires. In both situations, you want to prepare to leave your home once at a moment's notice. Like preparing for a wildfire, you need to have a bug-out bag.

    These bags should have enough food, water, first aid, and hygiene to get you to your emergency destination. The difference between the two disasters is you can better prepare your home for a hurricane.

    You can prepare your home for a hurricane by boarding your windows and doors. Reinforcing your windows and doors will mitigate the water damage to your home caused by flooding. Knowing this, we recommend keeping a stockpile of plywood and nails to cover all your doors and windows. It is better to know how to prepare for a flood for survival.

    As part of your hurricane checklist, you should also keep a stockpile of sandbags in your home. During a severe storm, greywater backs up from the influx of water that enters the system. The extra water creates failures in the drainage system by overloading our waterways.

    Using sandbags can help mitigate the amount of gray water that enters your home. Sandbags should cover your home over floor wastes and drains. These drains are often found in bathrooms, showers, laundry rooms, and basements.

    Using sandbags will keep gray water from backing up into your home, causing water damage.

     

    Prepping for Tornados

     

    tornado season prep

     

    Tornadoes are the next type of natural disaster that could cause you to flee your home. We recommend you utilize our tornado kit checklist to be as prepared as possible.

    Tornado prepping is similar to hurricanes in that there are things you can do to your home to remain safer. 

    • You can remove dead or damaged branches from the trees around your home to remove the chance of falling overhead hazards. 
    • We recommend you remove debris and moveable items from around your yards, such as wood piles and BBQ grills. 
    • Reinforce the weak points of your home, such as the windows, doors, and garage. 

    During tornado season, it’s essential to know the difference between a tornado watch and a warning. A tornado watch is a preliminary warning that informs you that weather conditions are worsening and that a tornado may be possible. We recommend preparing your home and bug-out bags during a tornado watch.

    On the other hand, a tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been spotted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings are severe and often indicate that evacuation may be necessary should the tornado come close enough to your home. 

     

    Blizzard Prepping for Beginners 

     

    cars driving in a blizzard

     

    Blizzards are the last type of natural disaster you might need to prepare for. Blizzards affect people in the northern midwest states. Blizzards differ from the previous disasters we mentioned.

    Instead of fleeing your home, you need to bunker down and not leave your home. Therefore, keeping a stock of survival food buckets in your home becomes crucial. It becomes vital because you need enough supplies until the blizzard has passed. In addition, keeping little treats like freeze-dried cereal can help make these long days pass a little easier, especially with little ones around.

    We recommend keeping at least two weeks of stock in preparation for blizzards. Even though a blizzard won't last a whole two weeks, the effects of a blizzard can easily last two weeks. These effects include infrastructure failure, empty grocery stores, and dangerous road conditions. Once the blizzard passes, you can leave your home and restock your supplies. 

     

    Beginner Prepping for Power Outages

     

    power outage prep

     

    Like blizzards, power outages can cause you to bunker down in your home for an extended period. Blizzards can cause power outages, but they are not the only cause of power outages.

    During a power outage, you want to ensure you have enough resources to last you two weeks. While preparing for a power outage, you want to ensure you have a plan for emergency lighting and regaining access to power.

    Here are some tips for surviving during power outages

    • Prepare an emergency generator and extra fuel ahead of time.
    • Utilize solar panels to charge your devices like cell phones, headlamps, and radios.
    •  Keep a stockpile of different-sized batteries.
    • Use auxiliary power banks and rechargeable batteries to keep your essential devices charged up. 

    You also want to make sure you have a way to cook your emergency food if you rely on electricity for cooking. You can do this by getting a camping stove and stocking up on propane and other types of fuel or knowing some method of cooking without electricity.

     

    Beginner Prepper Checklist

     

    emergency prep checklist

     

    For each of these situations, the supplies you need are standard, but the way you use them will differ. To make things easier on you, we have created a prepping list for beginners.

    These are products you should be stocking up on no matter what. Of course, the items on this beginner prepper list are not the only things you should be stocking. But it is a great place to start.

    Final Thoughts 

    Beginning Prepper Survival Guide Download 

    Kudos to you for beginning your prepping journey!

    Prepping takes time, energy, and a substantial financial investment. But what you put into the process will all be worth it when you can keep yourself and your family more comfortable in the aftermath of an unexpected disaster and emergency scenario

    We understand that the process may feel intimidating. So, that is why we are here to help. Our Practical Prepper Blog is a fantastic resource for beginner (and expert) preppers. 

    And for any questions about freeze-dried food and food storage, we have product experts waiting at the ready. Click here to schedule a meeting and get all your questions answered.