Prepping: A Beginner’s Guide – Essential Items Needed for Disaster Preparation (Pt. 2)

 It is human instinct to be aware of possible threats around us. Often, a person neutralizes a threat by creating a story of the worst case scenario, and then prepping around that.  Becoming a person who prepares for disasters begins with a new level of awareness.  A prepper knows that there are possible threats, and that it only makes sense to be as ready as possible. They begin with fundamental disaster items to sustain the basic needs (food, water, clothing and shelter) and then add more preparedness layers onto their foundation.  Basic disaster items are intended to sustain family members for 3-5 days.  However, many decide to expand their disaster supplies to encompass a longer duration in case that emergency response is delayed.  This is why preppers believe in having “back-ups for their back-ups.”

Getting Started

When preparing for a disaster, it is essential to have provisions in place to secure your needs.  It all starts with research. For example, learn how much food to store by finding out how many calories a person needs per day in order to survive.   Go to survival/prepping forums to read about what others are doing – most preppers are very open to helping others who want to prepare.  We have all been at the beginning stage of preparing, and it can be overwhelming at first.

When beginning to get preparations in place, concentrate of the basic needs of survival: water, food, shelter, and clothing, and move on from there.  Below are some basic suggestions on items that would be ideal to have in the home:


It is suggested to have 1 gallon of water per person/per day.  Having a 3 day supply of water on hand is a great place to start. However, many preppers like to be as thorough as possible in their prepping. Because water is one of the most important supplies you can have, I recommend that you play it safe and double the amount of water needed. The extra water can be used for other purposes like sanitation, cleaning, etc.  Additional water storage for longer term use can be reviewed here.  If family members such as children or the elderly become dehydrated and need more water, you’ll be very glad that you stored more than needed.  It is suggested to have other water-related supplies such as a water filter, frozen water in the freezer, and water purification tablets. Lakes and streams can also be a way to find water, but the water needs to be treated.  Don’t forget about the hidden water sources in your home.


The large volume supermarkets typically have better deals than at the smaller stores. Finding local ads from the large supermarkets can save on gas money as well as on shopping time. Even the dollar stores carry canned goods and food products for short term/long term food supplies. Look for sales at the stores and buy as much of the item as your budget will allow. This list offers suggestions for your first emergency food shopping trip.

Using a food storage calculator will help determine how much food is necessary.  There are some considerations to keep in mind before purchasing the food items:

  • Expiration Dates – It’s best to find items that have expiration dates that are 1-2 years away from expiring, unless that item is used frequently in the home, and can be rotated frequently.
  • Items on Sale – Go for the deals.  Typically, there are deals that are advertised in the newspaper.  There are stores that have 10 items for $10, or 2-for-1 offers.  You do not have to break the bank to get food items.  Just get a little each time you visit the store.  In season vegetables are typically cheaper.  Larger cans of goods generally have better deals.
  • The number of people in the household
  • A wide variety of food to help reduce food fatigue
  • The serving amount in the food
  • Vitamin content in the food
  • Any special health considerations for family members
  • Store what you eat, and eat what you store.  By following this adage, you will not end up throwing away expired food, and you won’t serve up something completely unpalatable during a crisis situation.

Medical Supplies

Medical emergencies can occur at the drop of a hat, and having the necessary supplies can mean the difference between life and death.  When an emergency situation arises, one must act calming and decisively.  In the case of a severe injury where there is a lot of blood loss, there must be supplies that can stop bleeding, reduce the pain, and calm the patient if necessary.  Find websites online that deal with first aid care and go through each injury to see what medical instruments and items are needed.  Even better, see if the Fire Department, American Red Cross or Medical Centers offer classes to assist in medical emergencies.  Make a list for supplies that can be added to your disaster medical supplies.

Here are a few e-books that were found on this subject:

72 Hour Bags

In the event that a person has to evacuate, having a prepared 72 hour kit or bug out bag will expedite the process of leaving and reduce last minute panic, allowing things to run as smoothly as possible.  A 72 hour bag should have all items necessary to survive for 3 days.  When preparing a bag keep the main survival points in mind (water, food, shelter, and clothing).  Having a separate bug out bag for the vehicle will also come in handy in the event that you have to leave your home immediately.


Tools are a valuable commodity when it comes to survival.  It is essential to have items for hunting, digging, cutting, communicating and navigational purposes.

  • Knives (large machete type and a smaller Gerber hunter)
  • Multi-tool
  • Camping shovels
  • Candles
  • Hammer or hatchet
  • Collapsible fishing pole with hooks, line, bobbers, etc.
  • Flares
  • Maps, compass or GPS devices (Having extra compasses ensures that navigation is accurate).
  • Rope (Paracord),
  • Knife sharpening stone,
  • Flash light with extra batteries

Read more about essential survival tools here.

Written Survival Information

In a high stress situation, it’s easy to forget the basic how-tos of tasks that you don’t perform every day. Many survival manuals and printouts can easily be downloaded onto a flash drive to be taken along in your bug out bags. Don’t underestimate the value of a spiritual book to boost the morale.

  • Survival Manuals
  • First Aid Manuals
  • Native American Survival Handbooks
  • Boy Scouts Handbooks
  • The Bible or other spiritual literature

Understanding how to survive in different scenarios requires one to constantly be learning in order to be as prepared as possible.  Prepping is a passion for some.  For others it is simply a way to keep their family as safe as possible.  Whatever the reason that you have decided to prep, you and your family will be far better off than those who choose to ignore the fact that disaster can, and usually does, strike when you least expect it.

Read Part 1 of this series and learn why preparing for emergencies is so important.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published February 17th, 2010
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  • Leon Pantenburg

    Here’s a story about chosing a survival knife that your readers might appreciate. Please take a look, and if it fits your format, feel free to post it!
    Leon Pantenburg

  • Tess

    Thanks Leon for sending us this information.  Finding the right type of survival knife is indeed an important tool to carry.  Knives are a mulitipurpose survival tool that should be in everyone’s bag or camping equipment.  If you invest in a quality, well made knife, that investment will pay itself off over and over again. 

  • DJ

    Disaster preparation and survival is something that I think about heavily.  You never know when disaster might strike and it’s better to be prepared than not.  Those that are not prepared can be in danger if shortages come along.  Great post!

    • Tess


      I know what you mean. I was just reading an article on why people don’t prepare and I was shocked at the complacency of people. The excuses were off the chart. It’s actually kind of sad. All we can do is plant to seed to be prepared for something and the rest is up to them.


  • James

    Update: The link to Leon’s excellent article is now

  • John

    Has anybody ever used a sand point well?  I’m thinking about adding one to my preps.  Looking at this one:   Any thoughts?  Does it actually work?

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