SHTF – The Beginners Guide for Preppers

Maybe you just finished watching the evening news and wonder what might happen tomorrow. Could it a terrorist attack on a major US city? Will solar weather take down the power grid? There are a myriad of bad things to ruin your day, week, month or year. The prepper community calls it SHTF, short for “shit hits the fan.”

Like many people, your paycheck does not stretch as far as it used to. In fact, you may have had a pay cut or have become unemployed. Before maxing out your credit card, take a breath and take stock of what disasters are most likely to happen in your town.



Air is the most immediate need you will face. Without it, you will die within three minutes. Unless there has been a biological, chemical or nuclear event in your neighborhood, you will probably plenty of it available. The good news is, air is still free.

Have a Gas mask or breathing apparatus in your bug out bag or near to hand for extra security.



Water is nearly as free as air and just as necessary. It is an essential prep item and without it, you and your loved ones will die in three days. Unfortunately, your water supply is not as reliable as your air supply, so this is another prep item you need to plan for. Fortunately, it is very easy to lay in a supply of stored water without spending money.

The easiest way to do this is to save clear plastic bottles and jugs after you have drunk their contents. Wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinse and sanitize them with a weak bleach solution. A few drops of unscented chlorine bleach diluted in a gallon of water is sufficient.

Fill them to their tops with tap water. There is enough chlorine in city water supplies to keep it safe and potable. Make a note on your calendar to empty and refill them with fresh water every six months. New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July are easy-to-remember dates.

White plastic milk jugs and ones that have previously contained household cleaning supplies and chemicals are not suitable for water storage. The best containers will have something like “PET” or “PETA” stamped into the plastic on their bottoms.

Government preparedness guidelines once advised storing one gallon per day per person but have revised this to “the more, the better.” The bare minimum is two gallons per day, but five or more give you a wider safety margin. Water gets spilled in the best of times. In the worst of times, this may become a matter of life and death.

Store more water if there are babies, young children and elderly adults at your house. They become dangerously dehydrated more quickly than healthy adults. Do not forget your pets.

Better still invest in a a water filter.

Preppers - Water



Next, you and your family need a snug and weatherproof shelter. During inclement weather, you will survival about three hours without it. Now is the time to take care of all those minor household repairs you have been putting off. Check the locks on outside doors and all windows, and replace any that seem worn or flimsy. A few dollars’ worth of repairs ahead of time is worth several thousand afterward.

During emergencies, local authorities may advise residents to shelter in place, more commonly known as staying indoors at home. There is always a possibility that you could lose your home or apartment due to weather, fire or some other disaster. Now is the time to plan ahead.

If you have friends or family members who live nearby, discuss with them what you would do if someone’s home were destroyed. This is a two-way street. If you plan to go their house if yours is lost, be prepared to return the favor if a friend finds himself in the same situation.

After a widespread disaster, such as a tornado or flood, most of the homes in your town may be destroyed or uninhabitable. An inexpensive but good name-brand emergency tent can be your friend. These can often be found used on eBay, in thrift shops or at garage sales for surprisingly little money. If you need to shelter three people, buy a six-man tent; for four, an eight-man tent, etc. The additional space will be needed to store bedding, clothing and other supplies.



A healthy adult can live about three weeks without food. As a beginning prepper, you might think that those cases of dehydrated foods or COMBAT RATION are your only option. They do provide a sense of security, but you will not need them to get through a long power outage, a bad weather event or a terrorist-induced economic shutdown.

Break the habit of running to the supermarket every day to pick up tonight’s dinner or to purchase a pantry staple you have run out of. Get out Grandma’s vintage cookbook and learn to cook from scratch. Cook a double recipe of your family’s favorite casserole, serve one half for dinner and tuck the other half away in the freezer.

Your best friend is a well-stocked pantry full of quality canned foods; bulk items such as rice, beans and pasta; seasonings and baking products. Buy foods that you and your family enjoy as part of your usual diet. Choose easy-to-prepare comfort-food items such as macaroni-and-cheese dinners, beef stew, soups, chili, etc. These require little or no complicated preparation, little cooking fuel and very little water.

A Few Other Considerations for Preppers

Battery-powered lamps and Solar Power Bank, lanterns, more batteries than you think you will ever need, or oil lamps with extra wicks and plenty of lamp oil will keep up morale during a blackout. Stay on top of your household laundry so that you do not run out of clean clothes at the worst possible time. Keep your car’s gas tank at least half full at all times.

Where to Start

For more information on getting started in prepping, visit our store for useful and potentially lifesaving advice and products.