Getting Started With Survival Preparedness – Skills, Categories


While getting started with prepping and preparedness, it may seem overwhelming to figure out what you need, and what you need to know. Don’t worry too much though, because the fact that you’re even thinking about it puts you way ahead of nearly everyone else.

There are logical ways to go about starting your preparedness,
and here’s one way…

First, let me say this… Even more important than acquiring physical prep items — are the practical skills and knowledge that goes along with using them, and learning to adapt with what you have on hand – in addition to the ability to replace and replenish resources.

This will only come with experience and real-world practice, so be sure to set aside some time to learn these skills (along with the associated tools). Having a broad and general practical set of skills and knowledge will help you all through your life, regardless of disaster or breakdown of life as we know it today…

The more that you know and the more skills that you develop, the more self-reliant you will become. Not only will this help you if TSHTF, but you will also be able to trade these skills by helping / bartering with others. You will become a valuable resource to yourself and to others.

A good way to get started with a general preparedness plan is to group things (and your ideas) into broad categories. Make a list of these categories. Think of “high level” subjects that you can later expand into finer detail.

Here are some categories to consider.
This is in no particular order…just brainstorming.

Food and Food Storage
Food Prep Tools and Methods
Energy / Batteries / Lighting
Alternative Energy
Communications / Radios
First Aid / beyond just the basics
Sanitation / Personal Hygiene
Fishing / Hunting /Trapping
Financial Security
Living Low Profile, Stealth and Tactical
Survival Reference Books
Man-made or Natural Disaster Scenario Defensive Plans
Shelter / Backup plan if displaced / Temporary shelter
Bug Out Plan
Survival Kits per application
Barter items
Building / Construction Tools and Supplies
Personal Interests

Of course there’s lots more, but by thinking and planning in terms of categories, you will accomplish your preparedness goals in a more efficient and quicker manner.

Start with the basics – all things related to Water and Food. Then continue with other categories as you see fit.

You will find that the process of becoming better prepared is fun, and the more that you accomplish the more you will feel liberated and self-reliant. It is a comforting and empowering feeling.

Try it… you’ll like it…


  1. I suppose this would be under food preps, but to make sure you have plenty of seeds (I use heirlooms). Also books and journals for gardening.

  2. “Getting started with survival preps” is so often put under the category of exceedingly complicated, overwhelming in scope, and where do I go from here. This only happens to new comers because there is a need for leadership in this area. So let me start out by offering some guidance.

    1. Start by reading the book -Backout Wars” by Dr. Peter Pry. After reading about 50 pages you will be scared to death by what can and will happen. This book encompasses all the possible problems that a prepper will ever encounter; work toward solving (overcoming) the problems you will encounter in this book and you will have a damn good chance of making it.

    2. You will need to put yourself in the frame of mind of someone living in the 1850s, such as what did these people need to do to stay alive.

    3. Put yourself in the position of having only the tools, knowledge, and skills of 1850 farmers, not city folks, because long term this is all you will have to live on.

    I suggest that it is necessary at first to put yourself in the frame of mind of what is needed while you save your money to buy what you will really need later in your prepping life. I have taught preparedness this way may times and it really helps new comers.

  3. Drinking water–one week supply (that’s one gallon per person per day, drinking water ONLY). Food–one month supply. When that is done, lists are great, but my eyes glazed over looking at Ken’s list. Just that little bit of preparation will give the newcomer space to breathe while they work out the rest.

  4. Wellllll, Ok.

    I’m going to disagree with Ken just a little here. I have been asked many many times ”how do I get prepared?” Here is my common answer/s.

    I believe the very first thing that’s needed is to understand what one is preparing for. What do you think is going to “get ya”, make a list of the concerns you have. Such as: an earthquake, hurricane, power outages, storms, EMP, nuke war, economy, and so on. And please do not say “everything”. Then prioritize your “get ya” list and decide what is the most likely to happen. FYI, if preparing for an Asteroid Impact; best of luck with that one.

    After you have the “get ya” list, than start to determine what it is you will need to outlast that particular threat. It will be very easy to see that some threats will be covered with preps for other threats, but not always. Yes, we all know Water, Food, Shelter, and so on, but what specifically will you need to make it through a Pandemic or a JIT food catastrophe, earthquake, or whatever? Obviously you will not need a Bio-Hazard suit for an economic crash (probably not). So figure out what scares the bejeebers out of you and work on that first.

    The next thing I suggest; is think about where you are; City, Burbs, rural, and so on. What will it take to outlast others around you? What will be the threat if you “hunker down” or Bug-Out? What about your family, do you have small children or elderly parents? Can you “Bug-Out” with 2-4 kids and a 90 year old tagging along or would you be better off hunkering down (even if in a city) for the first month or two? Most importantly if you Bug-Out do you have a place to go, do you have more supplies at your BOL? DO NOT think you will survive “in the woods” it will NOT happen, PERIOD.

    Once you have a good idea of a “plan” than you need to start on your Skills/Supplies/Location. Please do NOT underestimate having a plan and follow that plan. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, I know plans change all the time, but at least have a good solid plan for prepping, with a timeline. Modify the plan if needed, but have a direction, a checklist. Not only of water food etc. but of skills, a travel plan, BOL, and so on.

    Without a good plan you will be floundering around buying this and that, learning how to field strip an AR15 when you own an AK or buying 50 buckets of Mountain House freeze dried gunk, when you and your family will HATE “gunk”. FIY, 500 pounds of beans is great, but you had better have a way to cook em or very VERY strong teeth. Eat what you store, store what you eat.

    Lastly, I understand the gist of Ken’s article, but if you’re first getting started, start from the beginning not from step 4 or 5. Hence I believe more in living the “lifestyle” than just buying a lot of “stuff”, learning how to build a fire 15 ways and waiting around for Armageddon. Live the lifestyle, enjoy the “old ways” of doing things, become more in touch with nature, and mostly figure out what’s truly important to you and your family. I’m betting it won’t be the newest BS movie from the airheads in Hollow-Wood, it will be watching a beautiful Sunset from the Front Porch in the homestead.


    PS; Nobody ever said Prepping was easy, because it is NOT “easy”; it takes work, a commitment, a plan, and a dream of something better.

    1. I would add one thing to your ideas NRP. Once you figure out what you are prepping for you need to take stock of what you HAVE, then make your plan for what to get whether it be food, water, tools, skills. You have to have a starting point and also since you don’t really know when something will happen you might just have to make do with what’s in your hand.

      1. @ poorman

        I agree whole-heartedly; I keep a rather accurate inventory of my “deep pantry”, and would suggest everyone do the same. Also I am in total belief if “use one, buy two” until you can afford or reach the stock you want/need.

        Skills are an ongoing thing. I kid at times about knowing 15 ways to build a fire….. Maybe not so crazy of an idea; just to keep the old brain thinking????


    2. Another thing often over looked is taking stock of what things and skills you already have. You probably have more than you realize. If you enjoy things like camping, hunting, fishing, knitting, sewing, carpentry, gardening, etc. then you’ve got a head start over most. Develop the skills you already have and improve on them. For example, my hobby is baking. Being able to bake from scratch instead of from a box will be a useful skill by itself. But then I learned to make my own brown sugar, baking powder, extracts, puff pastry, vinegar, and maraschino cherries. The quality is far superior and you can make them all for pennies to the dollar. If you like carpentry. learn to make your own stains and varnish. Gardening? Learn how to save seeds or how to graft fruit trees. A nurse? Learn about native medicinal plants. Take what you already know and expand on it. Take small steps and laugh at your mistakes. Remember, knowledge costs nothing but it’s invaluable.

  5. Prepping is a journey, not a destination.
    Make a plan, work your plan.

  6. My journey began with one case of green beans. I then began storing food which led me to great sites about surviving and started me down another path with water and BOBs….and on and on and on, and I am still on that journey and probably will be forever.

    One day I just thought about food/water/medical/defense and why make it so hard and faced the fact one can NOT prepare for everything; but I could think in a short term way for preparing for long term.

    So, I started that morning upon waking with listing items that would make living after TSHTF a lot easier.

    extra sheets/ways to launder them
    extra washcloths/towels
    toothpaste/bar soap or body wash
    hair brush/shampoo
    toilet tissue/alcohol-peroxide (home-made cleaner for toilet)

    And I am still in the bedroom!!!!:-)

    I chewed off one bite of the elephant at a time and used that list to store what I needed; next day, new list, move on.

    I am confident now with my stores, but still find something occasionally I need to store.
    Never-ending process.

  7. Being relatively new to the prepping lifestyle (compared to many on this site) it wasn’t very long ago that I needed a lot of help and direction.

    I started just as NRP describes above – what do I need to prep for? “No” to blizzards and hurricanes. “Yes” to earthquakes, civil unrest, food chain supply disruptions and epidemics – and even an EMP. I can’t prepare for nukes or an asteroid – I have to give up on those.

    So, I started with more food and water – a lot of canned food because I do not have an endless supply of water here in suburbia. That led to water purification, a Water Bob bathtub liner (see Ken’s recent post on that) and to cooking.

    In the suburbs, I don’t want to have just the BBQ and camp stove for cooking (both only used outdoors) so I added a Sterno stove and cans, then a single burner fuel stove and cans of fuel (both usable indoors). Once I felt we wouldn’t perish of thirst or hunger immediately, I turned to medical needs. You start with the most urgent items and go along from there.

    If you are new to getting prepared, please do not be intimidated. As others have already said on this thread, just start somewhere. Buy some extra canned goods when they are on sale – and if you don’t know if you will like something just buy a can or two and try it out. No point to wasting money for something it turns out to hate. If money is really tight just buy a little at a time – it really does add up if you keep doing it. A gallon of water here, a few extra cans of fruit, veggies or meat there… and next thing you know you will have a shelf, a cupboard, etc… filled.

    If you are considering getting started I urge you to start with food & water – just get started NOW – you can do it!

    1. @ So Cal Gal

      I have to admit, you’re an inspiration to us all, even us old farts, and you have managed to do GREAT things.
      Ya make one proud to know there is hope.

      Thank You

      1. Hi NRP,

        You are the real inspiration… you and everyone else here who is kind enough to share lots of knowledge and answer all of the questions us newbies throw at all of you.

        Thank you – you are awesome!!!

        1. @ So Cal Gal

          Thanks for the compliment, but I believe it should be directed to a more worthy place. Ken has done one hell of a job here, with writing an article almost every day, the great job of moderation, and keeping us all thinking and working on what is needed. OHHHH and let’s not forget about the times he manages to get us ALL FIRED UP!!!!!

          Also for all of the people out there that comment and help to add to the discussion. I just checked MSB has had 28.2 MILLION visitors, that’s a HECK of a lot of people stopping by to see what’s going on. Another thing, MSB has climbed to #16 on the charts…. NOT bad for an OLD GUY running the show… HAHAHA

          Anyways, lets help keep the info flowing and support Ken in his efforts.


        2. an old guy?? …I’m in my prime – mid fifties and feeling great! ;)

  8. Think of it in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It really is that simple. All of the items Ken listed in this article can easily be placed in one of the five hierarchies. It will give you a starting point.

    I think if you fulfill the bottom two hierarchies (Physiological – air, water, food, clothing and shelter) and (Safety- personal, financial, health etc…) you will often achieve aspects of the top three hierarchies in the process. For the purpose of preparedness, regardless of how fulfilling your life may be, the bottom two hierarchies must constantly be attended to in order to survive long-term either before, during or after SHTF; the top three not so much. Just saying.

  9. “For starters”- I suggest to get a steel shelf kit at the Home store, put support blocks between the floor and the bottom of lowest shelf for water storage platform. You can attach shelves to the wall studs with screws for more stability. T.P. goes on top shelf. Expandable and maximizes space, helps organize your stuff.

  10. @CrabbeNebulae

    Too many years have passed and I’ve forgotten.
    What are the top 3 hierarchies?

    1. @Ladywest

      The hierarchies are:

      (Physiological – air, water, food, clothing, sex and shelter)

      (Safety – personal, financial, health, family security)

      (Love/belonging – affection, group affiliation and personal acceptance)

      (Esteem – Self-respect, prestige, reputation and social status)

      (Self-actualization – fulfillment and achievement of personal goals, ambitions and talent.)

      I’m not a Psychology major but I did take half a dozen Psychology courses many years ago and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs always stuck in my mind for some strange reason. Occasionally when I sit down to determine where I am in the overall scheme of preparedness I can’t help but think about it.

      I broke out one of my old Psychology books awhile back and was surprised to see that I have achieved, to a small degree, some of each of the hierarchies, but mostly the bottom two and I realized that in order to maintain a comfortable level of preparedness, I must remain fully cognizant of the bottom two and work at both of them (much more than the top three.) Now, I don’t sit around using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to develop or maintain my preparedness but I can’t help think about it occasionally. I think of weird things like that off and on. Just saying.

    1. Sportsman’s Guide sells them, but try Amazon also. Don’t forget the potassium iodide…

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