For our grandparents, general preparedness was a regular activity and it was part of their daily lives. They used to do things by themselves in order to survive and thrive. They weren’t reluctant to ask help from neighbors when things got tough. Nowadays, preparedness is seen as something extreme by the mainstream society. Most of the people out there have no idea of what it means to be prepared.
You see people running around, asking for help and begging the government for aid when a natural disaster occurs. They ask for handouts and they get angry and turn violent when support doesn’t come quickly enough. Many fail to see the reality They fail to understand that the government doesn’t have a preparedness plan for them, it has one for the masses. This means that you might not be one of the lucky ones who get help from the government. You need to prepare yourself for any sort of disasters the future may throw at you.
When it comes to prepping, a little common sense can go a long way. It will alleviate the pain of almost any crisis scenario you are forced to face. However, common sense is not always enough and many people keep asking: when does prepping stop?
While the answer for this question may vary for every one of us, a general response might be: when you are self-sufficient and you no longer depend on others for providing the comfort you are used to.
This article is part of the series intended to help beginners. However, it also provides some clear answers for the more advanced preppers. If you are new to general/emergency preparedness I recommend reading the following articles:
These materials are a must read for every prepper. They will help you put things in perspective and give you a smooth start.
Once you have the basics covered, it’s time to learn the four levels of preparedness so that you can select which one is right for you and your family. Many fail to understand that preparedness is not a big mix of everything that can be bought and stockpiled. There are more than one approaches to it. The good news is that there is no right or wrong choice here. It is all up to you to decide what level of preparedness you need to survive if any of the disasters you are prepping for unfolds.
Please note that even if you go with one of the preparedness level listed below, you can still be stranded if your home gets damaged or destroyed. As a backup plan, you should have a safe location (a bug out location). If that’s not possible, build a network of family and friends who can take you in when disaster strikes.
The four levels of preparedness
Level 1 preparedness
This is a level designed for minor disaster and the duration of the event is no longer than two weeks. These are usually severe weather type events. Ice storms, floods, heavy snow are all filed under this category. These are events that disturb the normal functioning of high public targets, such as utilities, hospitals, fire and police stations, etc. The priority here is to do everything possible to keep up first responders and hospitals. To allow them to function as they do on a daily basis. Your house will have to wait and until help gets there, you will be on your own.
To survive for two weeks without electricity or water and possibly stuck in your home, you will need a good amount of supplies. Here is what you should have for level 1 preparedness:
- A source of heat. Here the options can vary, but a fireplace or a kerosene heater and enough fuel to last for a few weeks are a good option.
- A good first aid kit (this is mandatory for every household, regardless if you are a prepper or not).
- A supply of water. You can have a good amount of water stored in the house or you can grab it while you can – water pipes, snow, rainfall, etc.
- Easy to prepare food (canned goods work great and usually, everything that doesn’t require extensive cooking will work as well).
- Medicine that you may need (having one month ahead of medicine is always a good practice).
- Candles or solar lamps
- Battery operated radio/television so that you can find out what you should expect
Suggested reading: What foods to hoard when the power is out
Level 2 preparedness
This one will typically last a month or so and includes events that disrupt the supply chain. A hurricane or a massive flood will cause roadway damage over vast areas. The supply trucks will stop coming until the roads are cleared. This level of preparedness requires the same things from level one, but you have to scale it up and to be sure, you should have twice as much.
Here is what you should have in addition to level 1 preparedness:
- Having a generator is a must and you have many models from which to choose. You can get one that powers the entire house if fuel is no problem. Get a smaller one (even solar-based) to handle light and lower energy needs. You have to think this through and buy something that controls all your needs based on the equipment you have and the fuel you can obtain.
- Defensive weapons to protect your home and keep your loved ones safe. After two weeks, people will panic and they will get desperate. If you are one of the folks who got prepared, you will attract people and you need to make sure you can defend yourself from the undesirable ones.
- A means of cooking, a propane camp style stove or a Campmaid Dutch oven are good choices because they offer many possibilities to cook your food. Eating only canned, cold goods for 30 days is not a pleasant experience and it can create food fatigue.
- Various methods of purifying water. If you don’t have enough bottled water stored that can last for 30 days or more, you will need to procure water for your needs. This might not be a difficult task and even if you are lucky enough to have a good water source nearby, you will still need to purify it. There are many choices here as well, and having a lifestraw filter or water purifying tablets is a good start.
- Sanitation items. You will need to stay clean to keep a good health. Universal soap, wet napkins and learning how to make your own cleaning solutions are your primary choices.
The events that are covered in the first two levels of preparedness are events that can happen to any of us during our lifetime. In fact, there are many of people who experienced such events and they learned valuable lessons from them.
Level 3 preparedness
A level 3 is something that many think it can’t happen to them and when it does, it has a significant impact on their lives for three months or so. A good example would be the superstorm that hit New Orleans. We all saw the aftermath of the disaster and how it changed people. Usually, a level 3 event is something that will also bring martial law to the community.
Besides what you prepared for level 1 or level 2, I recommend the following:
- A two-way communication equipment so that you can talk with people from outside the affected area. When the situation is critical, the truth is being covered by the authorities. This is being done to avoid creating chaos inside the affected area. Outsiders will have much better view of the entire picture and they will be able to give it to you straight. A HAM radio is the number one choice for many preppers. It’s an invaluable asset when people are trying to keep you in the dark.
- A neighborhood network to protect yourself and keep things under control. There are always those who cause trouble and there’s no need to sugar coat it. When disaster strikes, these troublemakers have to be contained, especially if martial law is being declared. If someone starts acting up and you want to protect yourself, when the army interferes to “maintain order” you will all be seen as possible threats. Know your neighbors and know what you should expect from them.
- Rechargeable batteries and the means to recondition them. A solar battery recharger will work great, but you need to know what batteries can be recharged, how many times, what is the shelf life, discharge rate, etc. Handling batteries is not as easy as some would think.
Suggested reading: How to survive martial law
- Barter items are also a must and you have some in your home without even knowing it. You should have a supply of barter items that you can trade with your neighbors without risking your survival supplies. Everything from vice items to batteries will worth trading and you need to know how to do it. You should never give away supplies for free because people will target you when they become desperate. Trading should be the only way of exchanging supplies between survivors.
- Sanitation and waste disposal. This is something that becomes a problem during a level 3 event and you will have to handle it at some point. You will need to do it privately if you want to stay under the radar. There are many solutions to handle survival sanitation and this article will provide you with more information.
- A decoy pantry is something you really need. I’ve been promoting the idea of having a decoy pantry for quite some time now. If you’re familiar with my website, you should know what I’m talking about. In a few words, a decoy pantry means having a few of your supplies hidden in plain sight. Something you are willing to sacrifice when you have to deal with home intruders, regardless if it’s the army or the undesirable people from your neighborhood. Giving up your supplies and putting up a show will convince intruders that what they got from you is all you had in your home.
Be smart about it!
One thing you have to keep in mind is that during a level 3 event, theoretically there should be a form of government that provides assistance. FEMA should come and help, and if they deliver food, water, etc. you should take advantage of it. Don’t be proud, sitting on your mountain of supplies while watching others struggle to get a bottle of water because that’s not a good strategy. Taking supplies from the authorities will help stretch yours and even more, it will make you look like one of the crowd, one of the helpless ones.
Level 4 preparedness
A level four event is something that could last a year before it starts to unwind (in a best-case scenario). Such development has a turning point that settles the fate of the affected. Chances are, things might not turn to the way they were before the event. Such an event could be an economic collapse or a war and in this scenario, help is not coming. If the forms of government are still functioning, all their attention and support will be concentrated in urban environments.
These environments will grow increasingly dangerous as times goes by and resources are being cannibalized, and order would need to be established. Think about this, if an area runs low on supply and food tracks have to cross that area, do you think that starving people will just let them pass by? If you prepare for such an event, you should make plans to live in an appropriate locality. Stay away from densely populated areas. If making other living arrangements is not possible you should at least have a safe haven. Focus your prepping efforts on your bug out location. Make sure you have a bug out strategy if evacuation becomes necessary.
Here is what you should consider if you want to prepare for a level 4 event:
- During a level 4 event food will become a problem and you will need a seed vault in order to grow a garden and supplement your food supplies.
- A way to capture rainwater or run a well without grid-based power. This should cover your water needs and you will have time to spend on other chores.
- Have additional weapons and ammunition and learn how to use them. Buy multiple weapons that will be used for defensive/offensive purposes and hunting.
- A professional heavy duty first aid kit and a good supply of antibiotics.
- A good knowledge of herbal medicine goes a long way and knowing how to keep small garden whit useful herbs will help you deal with various illnesses.
- A good knowledge of foraging will help you stay fed when food is scarce and will provide you with natural medicines that can treat various diseases.
- Keeping small livestock is a good step towards self-sufficiency and learning how to manage and butcher them will make your life much more comfortable.
- A food production system, something that provides you with fresh meat and vegetables is always a good addition and some of the solutions out there aren’t hard to manage.
- Networks of trustworthy people that can help you when things get tough and that can share any information that would help you survive.
These are just a few of the requirements for a level four event and the list is far from being complete. As I said before, during such an event you will understand if things can get back to normal and eventually, your ultimate goal will be to become self-sufficient.
A final word
These suggestions represent an excellent planning start point for every prepper and they will fit a variable number of situations. They can be scaled based on the type of scenario that is the most probable for your area. Emergency situations will always happen, regardless if you plan for them or not. Learn about the level of preparedness suited for you, make a plan and start following it. Don’t wait for government assistance and learn how to be in control.
Stay safe and God Bless!
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