I’ve seen lots of people new to prepping, like me, that have asked the question “Where do I start? Food? Water? Defense? Medicine? other?” And I’m going to share with the Internet my ideas and plan. To start with, I like camping and we have lived in the same house as adults for 20 years. During that time you build up bits and pieces of a medicine closet – which can be organized into a bag or kit. For us, gauze bandages, neosporin and alcohol are the base, along with analgesics, anti-allergy and anti-flu (Imodium(c), PeptoBismo (c) and Milk of Magnesia.) I don’t have much in the ways of medical tools (clamps, hemostats, scalpels etc.)
Note: there is one item every house should have – a fresnel lens! This small but very useful piece of glass/plastic is the multi-tool for anyone. If used right it can cook foods, boil water for hygene, magnify small writing, even be used as a weapon when mounted. They are cheap – from $2 to $30 at Amazon. These things can start fires when nothing else can. They can melt snow/ice for dehydrated hikers, they can burn through vines and branches in minutes. Coolest $5 ever!
When it comes to “What first?”, let’s try to use the 3 (or 6 or 4 or..) rule: you can die from lack of oxygen or a major wound in less than 3 minutes. You can die from lack of shelter in 3 hours. You die from dehydration going without water in 3 days. You can die without food in 3 weeks. So … Medical -> Shelter -> Water -> Food. Where’s defense? That’s coming. If you have the beginnings of a medical kit (some basics, listed above) then I suggest you get a blanket and a sleeping bag, or a very small trailer. Those of you like me who camp in any weather and don’t believe a camper is a necessary much less must have thing, you can make your own shelter. This advice isn’t for you. Those of you who haven’t camped – start. You learn to adapt, you learn to adjust yourself to the environment around you. You learn to work on the basics then the rest is gravy. Now take that out and use it OR if you have a yard, take it out and use it! Don’t ever rely on a tent or trailer you’ve never used.. trash bags are more dependable till you test it.
Next, water. This one’s kind of hard for city dwellers but there’s still steps you can take. You can have a small stash of secured water in your bathroom or high up kitchen cabinets. You can buy pool shock (CaClN03 Calcium Hypochlorite) and use it in case what comes out of the sink isn’t healthy. Making a gutter based or porch based rain catch is a wonderful idea, and if you can look up the ‘water bob’, a way to save water safely in your tub in emergency, do so and get one. Keeping the water clean and up to date is a new job, all yours. The more you think the SisHTF, the more water you should save. When the water system stops producing, you won’t be high and ‘dry.’
Food. This one’s not my forte, but I’m working on it. To start, the conventional advice, is to start with foods that require no cooking and only water to eat: mac and cheese, ramen noodles, pasta, beans, rice, PopTarts, oatmeal, grits… Anything that has some sort of nutrition but you could eat if the power and the water went out (and you already have your water.) Later add sugar and flour and powdered eggs and powdered milk, canned goods, jerky/dehydrated foods. If you can in the meantime, start a fresh vegetable & herb garden. The point is to have things you will eat and yet are not time intensive. Later you can spend the ‘free’ time you have, after the SHTF, to do more complex growing and cooking.
So where’s the defense? It should be first! I don’t personally agree with that, in spite of the fact that I have lots of self-defense arms. (Notice I didn’t say firearms :)) In general violence during SHTF will be where the haves are accosted by the have-nots. If you don’t have any water, medicine, food or shelter, you are a much less interesting target to the have-nots. If you have what they want and they don’t SEE anyway to take care of their families otherwise, you and yours mean nothing. So self-defense really is a late comer. If you have no materials to defend, guns aren’t going to be very needed. So defense comes last and in relation to the other necessities. Build these up, then get defense to protect it. Save up a week’s water, a week’s food, some alternate shelters’, lot’s of medicine.
Now get a pistol. I personally recommend a S&W, Ruger or Taurus 357 magnum double-action revolver. Yeah in general a semiauto will fire more shots and 9mm ammo will be easy to find. But we’re talking starting prepping, not years into it. $200 -$400 on the pistol and another $100 in ammo and practice with a six shooter will do you more good than a Glock 9mm with 13 rounds in magazine, a half box of ammo and 5 minutes practice- more isn’t always better. My opinion, that and $3 will get you a coffee, if you can’t hit the target in 6 shots, another 7 ain’t gonna help either. Get and practice with speedloaders. I love my revolver – I can pop < 2″ holes all day long at 30ft with my S&W; not the same with my SIG P220 (about 4.5″ on bad day, 4″ on good.)**
After you get 1 week’s water, food, portable shelter and a good medicine kit (what you would find in a scout master’s first aid box) then get the pistol and ammo. Practice, get help/training, be ready to use it. 357 is called a ‘man-stopping’ bullet by coroners and medical examiners – dead men tell many tales of meeting the dreaded single shot GSW from a 357.
After adding more: 1 month’s water, food, and medicine (add super glue, ace bandages, topical antiseptic – peroxide, alcohol, and maybe some large gauze bandages, ice packs.) Then….., get a small bore rifle – 223 to .30-.30. They are accurate, cheap and in most places you can take them home the next day, sometimes right then depending on the local laws. They are good for hunting smaller animals and basic defense. Rifles of the same caliber as a hand gun, are always more deadly than the handgun; the speed and power of the catridge is 2, 3, 4 times more than a hand gun.
After adding even more: 3 month’s water, and food, the same medicine kit with emt’s addons – steth, bp meter, quick clot, pads/tampons, Israeli dressing; add a medium bore rifle .300 -338. These are more expensive but allow hunting at longer distance with much larger prey. They also make nice big holes in people when needed. A large deer or mountain lion will generally go down with one shot – definitely 2. Bears, well bears are different, pray you never meet one face to face. And, yes you can kill anything with any firearm, but with bigger tougher animals, GENERALLY larger more power rifle cartridges are needed to get more one shot kills.
After adding MORE: 6 month’s of water, and food, add to the med kit, hemostats, clamps, and scalpels. Then add a 12 gauge shotgun or an AR15/AK47. The shotgun is more useful but facing a semi-automatic that looks like a machine gun, people will run very quickly. Actually both are scary. Both are deadly. The shotgun is good for close range, the ar15/ak47 longer.
There’s more to add to the home kit, but that wraps up weapons. Do we need them? Yes. When? When we have materials to defend. Why not to start with? Which one is more likely to happen, massive civil unrest or a loss of utilities? (trick question, I’ve been through 4 weather related events where power and/or water were completely lost; only one where the sewer system was broken and not only survived but came through fine the only riots that ever occurred near me: the 1968 race riots in D.C.) Which one will definitely kill you if you don’t take precautions?
A late addition: A lot of older preppers are going to argue against me on weapons, vociferously. I stand by what I wrote: when ice storms or heat waves knock out the power, chances are far more likely to be in favor of water and food over guns? Now, I believe in Family Guys’ Peter Griffin when he says ‘A chicken in every pot, and a cap in every ass.’ You should already have a weapon, you should already be proficient with it. If you have one, get one. If you aren’t, become. I honestly believe if we had stayed like the revolutionaries of the US, every house a rifle and ammo and skills to use it, Homeland Security would be unneeded. There would be no need for the ^%#@# at the airports. or road check points, or cameras on the intersections. A Va Tech or Columbine or Killeen would be over, quickly, lives would be saved. If we took control of our own security then there would be a reduced need for it – then again, I believe in limited mandatory military duty for all citizens.
** I could do that, I’m getting rusty and need to use the range more. 1x every 3 – 6 months isn’t enough.