Prep In Steps – The 4 Levels Of Prepping

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Rev up your prepping one step at a time with the four levels or prepping, from bad weather to major SHTF. Start now with these simple preps.

Back when farms were the primary livelihood for most families, everyone practiced basic preparedness by keeping around emergency supplies and food items.

Today, in the world of supermarkets and online shopping, it seems the majority of people see emergency preparedness as an extreme tactic.

In reality, preparing for emergencies is an important step to take to protect yourself and your family (whether it be a small town blackout or a devastating natural disaster).

There are four levels of preparedness depending on the severity of the disaster you’re planning for.

Prep In Steps – The 4 Levels Of Prepping

How To Begin Prepping

So it’s time. You’re convinced. You know you need to prep…but where do you start?

Beginning prepping is like a train. It can be hard to get started but once it’s rolling it’s hard to quit!

Everyone successful at prepping has started from somewhere, and that somewhere is usually a bug out bag or maybe a backyard victory garden.

For most people taking care of your basic daily human needs (not wants) is the best place to start, but before you can understand what basic you will need you should consider the following.

What Are Your Prepping For?

How long you prep for obviously affects what you stock, and how much of it you stock. So does your reason for prepping.

Those getting ready for a economical collapse would have little use for a Faraday Cage, for example.

Nor would prepping for a long term senerio with only a weeks worth of water do you much good.

All the things you could possibly prep for is so varied that it’s impossible to cover them all in this article.

If you have a particular worry in mind I recommend you read more about what others are doing to prepare for it and add the extra things you may need to a basic starter plan.

Thankfully, determining how long you should prepare is much easier.

How Long Will You Need Your Preps?

There are some general guidelines and as luck would have it other preppers before you have well laid out plans for each time frame. My goal in this article is not get into each one, but to show you that they exist.

Here are the most popular prepping time lines.

72 hours

This is by far the most popular starting point for almost every prepper. Everything you need to survive for 72 hours is covered with a Bug Out Bag so make building one your #1 goal. A bug out bag will let you easily survive for 72 hours, three whole days and nights.

After 72 hours, in the real world some 95% of all emergencies will be handled and life will be back to normal, so in this way you are covered for just about any disaster.

For the other 5% of situations where the crap has really hit the fan, you can reach a better prepared location such as your bug out location (BOL) with your bug out bag on your back or in your vehicle.

OPTIONS: If a full bug out bag is above your budget or just not right for you, then at least build a Basic 24 Bug Out Bag that will keep you alive and comfortable for 24-48 hours. Most start here and expand as needed.

2 weeks

Most large scale natural disasters fall into this category, such as Katrina.

At this point you want to make sure you have enough water and food to last over and above the contents of your BOB.

A good water filter and a way to trap or find or stockpile more food will be needed, but other than that your basic needs will be met with a bug out bag.

You should also add more clothes, blankets, and hygiene supplies if you will not be on the move. A simple knife sharpener will also be a good addition if you do not already have one in your bug out bag.

1 month

Again, this is mostly more water and food over and above a BOB, but you will also need a way to Cook Your Food and Heat Your Home without power. Get foods that can be easily prepared with very little clean up.

You should also stock up on items that will make life more comfortable, such as a razor, more soap, a pillow, etc.

It would take a major SHTF event to put you in a situation where civilization was cut off for a month, so life will not be the same afterwards and recovery may be slow so prepare for that as well.

You can do this by stockpiling money, silver/gold, bartering items, a simple seed bank, and other long term self sufficiency items.

Bear in mind that a one month SHTF situation could easily turn into two, or three, or even six months. Society falls quickly but it will take much longer to get modern day systems running again.

prepping survival food storage shelves

6 months

Now you are into long-term preps. You will want to Build A Stockpile of food as well as Have Enough Water on hand for everyone.

Also consider Becoming More Self-Sufficient in case whatever event you are planning for last longer than expected.

Yes, you can live in a bunker for six months, but you could also live on your own homestead with a stockpile of foods.

Something catastrophic enough to collapse the modern world for six months will have major rippling effects for years or even decades to come.

Life as you know it will be different for months or years after you reconnect to society.

Bartering will be a given, and paper currency will most likely be useless due to inflation or possibly the collapse of the money system.

1 year

At one year you don’t have a lot of choices left. You’re talking about a complete collapse of society, cities, transportation, trains, and most likely the power and water grid, and possibly government as a whole.

Hundreds of millions or even billions of people will be misplaced and desperate for a twinkie and an iphone.

The world will never be the same and the power vacuum created by the total collapse of a nation such as ours will almost certainly break out into a major war the likes of which we have never seen.

You can either stockpile everything you need in a bunker and wait it out, become self-sufficient and make or grow everything you need yourself, roam the world scavenging what you need like an animal, or try to escape to another country and hope it’s better.

There are a few thought processes most preppers take when considering such long term situations.

Thought #1 – everyone wants what you have

how to hide police state 1

Option one (hunkering down out of sight) will most likely keep you safe and alive.

Rogue governments, a harsh militarized state confiscating stockpiles and rounding people up in safe zones, roaming gangs looting and killing everything they see… it will not be pretty.

Staying hidden from patrols, drones, and satellites is your only option. At the same time you must take care of your mental state.

Being alone (or with only 1-2 people) for such a long time can really mess you up.

A radio, books, puzzles, cards, and supplies for small projects will keep your mind busy.

Thought #2 – most people are good and life will go on

Option two (starting a cozy homestead in the mountains away from everyone) can work for you. Your best bet is to form a group and work your butts off to build a mini-town sanctuary away from others and barter as needed with an outside group.

If you don’t have a lot of money to put into preps this is probably your only real long term option anyway, so build a sustainable community and do what it takes to make friends and protect what you have.

Thought #3 – governments will collapse, anarchy is everywhere, every man for himself

Option three (moving from place to place looking for supplies) will be hell. Going “lone wolf” is a bit of fantasy in the real world. It means never trusting anyone, never resting, sleeping with one eye open, and hoping you can always stay one step ahead. You’re a prisoner to your own needs and safety is not guaranteed.

Maybe you’ll find a warehouse of food and water that no one else finds, or maybe you’ll find a big patch of woods with plenty of game, but it’s 99% certain someone will find you.

Imagine thousands (millions?) of people tromping through the woods looking for deer, or those same people going through every building in cities and towns looking for water. Simple math says you will eventually find yourself in a bad situation.

The trade off is you are mobile and can leave a bad situation easier, that is if you can get away without being seen.

Defend what is rightfully yours but use your common sense and get out of a bad situation before it happens….


If your plan is to willfully take what others rightfully have I have some news for you. You don’t belong on this website or any other like it because you’re not a prepper or a survivalist, you’re scum. A thief and a killer waiting for an excuse to take and hurt and kill, a psychopath that needs help. You’ll be caught and die quickly at the end of a well justified barrel.

Thought #4 – the grass will be greener elsewhere

Option four (leaving the country) will require timing that may not exist and honestly the pastures may not be any greener on the other side. If your plan is to skip to Canada or some other country before things get too bad you will have to leave early enough to beat any increased border patrols or outright border lockdown.

Nothing says another country will fair better and any country close enough will feel rippling effects of such a major disaster. How another nearby country will fair is almost a coin toss in any sort of SHTF situation that would leave America (or your country) in a mess for over a year. You may be worse off in the end.

You could easily find yourself going through SHTF while displaced in a country you know little about with limited supplies. Not good at all.

2+ year

Two years or ten, at this point it really wouldn’t matter. If you expect to make it this long you will need a foolproof plan. Even if you intend to stay deep in the woods away from everything, hunting will not be good (everyone and their mama will be tromping through the woods looking for food, scaring off anything in sight) and some of those people will eventually find your location.

urban survival disaster shtf emergency

Even a bunker full of supplies will not last forever, you would be forced to find more food and water at a minimum.

Trying to scavenge from place to place for years on end, not knowing where your next drink of water will come from or who will find you next is no way to live and it cannot last forever.

Your only hope may be to form a trusted group that can help each other on a fully functional and self-sufficient homestead or small town, but again this has a lot of security problems. You’ll also have to master more advanced skills such as seed saving and animal husbandry to keep a homestead going.

At 2+ years there is no sure plan and there is no guaranteed safety. Sorry. Society will have to start anew before the SHTF can end.

The wars, riots, military states, and rogue governments are the only guarantee in such a long term and horrible situation. Only after they have done their damage and a force large enough and rich enough is able to restore peace and order to the land could society rebuild.

In the mean time we’re screwed, and who’s to say the new government will be any better?

But does this mean we should give up and not plan? Hell no. It means we must prepare even MORE!

Basic Preparation

Level 1 – Basic Preparation

Level 1 preparedness should be practiced in every household around the world. In the event of a blackout or bad weather, you’ll have the basic supplies that you’ll need on hand. Some things you’ll want to store are:

  • A good first aid kit with bandages, ointments, and necessary medications
  • A kerosene heater or extra firewood (something that will work without power)
  • Water supply (plastic water bottles should be kept away from sunlight and rotated every so often)
  • Easy to prepare food – good examples would be pre-mixed stovetop meals (like soups), freeze dried food, etc.
  • Flashlights (battery or solar charged)
  • A battery-operated radio or television set
  • Batteries

Level 2– 30+ Days

A Level 2 event will likely have effects that last over a month. For example, a bad flood, fire, or hurricane.Here are some things to include (along with those listed in Level 1 preparedness):

  • A generator and backup fuel
    • A small generator is best as they’re easier to store and move around. They’ll power basic electrical equipment that you’ll need. A huge generator will be able to power your house, but you’ll use a lot of fuel.
  • Defensive weapons
    • Disasters bring out the worst in people. Between common looters and those trying to protect their family, you’re likely to attract some unfavorable people, especially if you live in a very populated area.
  • A cooking method
    • Cold food for thirty days will put you in a very unpleasant mood. Invest in a camping stove (and account for the fuel it will use).
  • Water
    • You can never store enough water. You’ll need either a bottled water supply that will last at least 45 days and/or a means of purifying water.

Level 3 – Three (or more) Months

A Level 3 event could impact you for more than three months, which is why it’s important to be very well prepared for all aspects:

  • Communication devices (i.e. a Ham radio) to keep in touch for family and neighbors
  • Create a neighborhood watch program
    • It will be a much more appealing idea to everyone to team up with your neighbors rather than turn against them. Suggest forming a neighborhood watch so you can all feel better protected and prepared.
  • Rechargeable batteries (and a solar recharger)
  • Barter items
    • You’ll want to keep a set of supplies on hand solely for the purpose of trading. In an event such as this one, money will be of no value. You need high-use items such as water, food, defense weapons, first aid supplies, etc. that people will need.
  • A waste disposal plan
    • Disposing of your waste becomes an important factor in survival. Anything that will signal a potential looter and tell them something about where you’re at or what you have is dangerous. Come up with a plan ahead of time.

Level 4 – Over a Year

A Level 4 event could be an economic collapse or even a war, and it will likely take over a year before life begins to return to normal:

  • Seed storage
    • You’ll need to plant and grow your own garden for an on-going supply of food. Educate yourself on local gardening seasons and what is easiest to grow.
  • Rain barrels or another way to capture and store water
  • Livestock
    • Keeping small livestock (like chickens) and having the education and means to butcher and cook them will be a necessity.
  • Defense weapons (and proper training)
  • Plans & Drills
    • Knowing where you’re at and what’s around will be crucial. Get maps of the area (especially topographical ones) and keep a plan of your house and land. Practice escape drills and other routines before you need to use them.
  • A serious first aid kit, along with any medication and extra antibiotics
  • Knowledge of herbal medicine
    • There will be no doctors, so having good knowledge of herbal medicine could save your life.
  • Books
    • If you have a place to store a book or two, choose wisely. Good subjects would be farming/gardening, first aid, etc.
  • Setup a network
    • Connect with your neighbors and keep in touch frequently. Setup a watch to keep away looters and make everyone (including yourself) feel safer.

Final Word

Perhaps the most important thing you can do now is begin educating yourself on first aid, farming, and defense. These skills are priceless in any situation.

Your emergency supplies should be set aside in a safe place away from prying eyes, extreme heat/cold, potential water damage, etc. Make sure you organize everything neatly and keep it all in one place so you know where to find it if you ever need it.

Having things stored in water-tight, easily maneuverable containers is important, especially if you’re planning on an event that would cause you to leave your home (like an approaching wildfire or flood).

Another thing to consider, if this is what you’re preparing for, is where you would go in this situation. Remember that neighbors and local family/friends would also have to leave their homes under these circumstances.

So, whether you’re just putting away some rainy day supplies, or you’re fully prepared for a bug-out event, anything you do now will help ensure the safety and survival of you and your family.

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