A quick introduction: I’ve been part of the prepping community since before I was born. My parents lived through the shortages of WWII and their parents lived through the shortages of the great depression.
I remember mom putting away a few hundred jars of garden vegetables every year she had a garden. She would buy 20 gallons of milk and freeze 18 gallons when we got home from the store. Our house always had multiple refrigerators and/or freezers.
As I prepared to leave home, mom and dad helped outfit my car. It wasn’t the car that was important to them, it was making sure that I had everything I needed, just in case.
Over the years, I’ve followed that. When I met my mentor we talked about “end of the world.” He use to joke that if I could get him to the “we have wire” stage, he could take us the rest of the way to modern computers. So I did the research into how to get from nothing to everything.
Some years later, I joined some local groups that were interested in preparing. Once there, I found that I and my ladies were doing the teaching. We still educated ourselves, but we were much more likely than others to be skilled in a very wide variety of things.
What do I do first?
This is the most common question asked of people getting into preparing. And it is a good question. If you ask on this forum or that forum they will happily tell you how to spend thousands of dollars in order to “get started”. And all of that is nice, but it doesn’t teach the most basic structure first: How do I prioritize my preparations.
The Rule of Three’s
You can survive:
- Three minutes without air
- Three hours without shelter
- Three days without water
- Three weeks without food
- Three months without hope
There are always going to be people that want to argue about whether “it is really three weeks?” “What if…?” The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter.
This is a structure to help you get started in preparing and to make good decisions on where to put your priorities.
So what does it mean?
Three minutes without air
If you aren’t breathing, you are not going to survive. Seems simple, but the first rule is to make sure you keep breathing. This translates into first aid and stop the bleed.
Make sure you have first aid gear and know how to use it. Make sure you have “stop the bleed” or “blow out” kits. These will keep you alive long enough to worry about shelter.
Longer term, this is personal hygiene equipment and products, so you keep healthy. Think about basic items: soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, bandaids or bandages, crutches, inflatable casts, etc.
Three hours without shelter
Once you are sure you are going to continue to breath, you need shelter. This isn’t just tents and huts and houses, this is everything that shelters you from the elements. It is hats and coats, clothing, rain coats, tarps, sleeping bags, socks, boots, and of course tents, huts and houses.
You should consider just how long you would survive in 40F rain without some sort of water proof gear. You would quickly start to get hypothermia. Your body is losing heat faster than it can produce it. You will die. And hypothermia sets in at when the core temperature reaches 95F (35C).
At the other extreme, hot days can lead to over heating, dehydration, nasty sun burns and a host of other issues which will kill you.
Three days without water
Water is of higher priority than food. The number of people that have a 6 month supply of food and have no idea what to do if the taps stop flowing is mind boggling. You need water.
Water is both short term (what you carry with you), medium term (how you get more to carry with you), and long term (how are you going to get the 4 to 6 liters of water per day to live comfortably).
Remember, water is used for more than just drinking. It is used for cleaning and cooking.
And all of the water you use needs to be clean enough for the use you put it to.
Three weeks without food
This people seem to have in spades. Unfortunately, most people don’t consider what it takes to prepare their stored foods. Nor how long they will be eating it, nor just how little they actually have.
A comment that has been made many times is something like: Have you tried to eat just 72 hour bars for 72 hours?
Three months without hope
If you are using your preparations, the odds are high that bad things are happening to you, or to the world around you. You need something to keep your spirits up. That is hope.
Hope includes games to play, radios to listen to, books to read. A little bit of chocolate candy or hard candy hidden away to make everybody a little happier. It can be a favorite stuffed animal or a picture of loved ones.
Hope is a requirement for living (as opposed to surviving), and for long term survival.