10 Mandatory Preps Regardless of How SHTF

One of the key things to learn about prepping is that even though each person has in mind specific SHTF events they believe will happen, there’s really no way to predict when SHTF or how it will happen.

One of the most dangerous things a prepper can do is to prepare exclusively with a focus on one specific type of SHTF event. Preppers that only prepare for a Tsunami or only prepare for an EMP or solar flare, put themselves at risk of not being ready if a different type of SHTF event occurs.

So what are the mandatory preps, regardless of how SHTF? What are the categories and some of the items that you should be prepping to be prepared for a wide variety of SHTF events? We’ve given you a list below.

1. Water

For humans, water is pretty much the lifeblood. The average person cannot survive more than three days without it. For most people the physical and mental effects of dehydration will negatively impact your ability to survive much sooner than three days.

Examples of Water Preps:

  • Bottled Water
  • Lifestraw or Other Portable Water Filtering Method
  • Water Bricks
  • Collapsible Water Jugs
  • Iodide Tablets
  • Bleach
  • Stainless Steel Container (for boiling water)
  • Rainwater collection barrel with filter and spigot
  • Large Scale Water Filtration System like the Alexapure Pro
  • Plastic sheeting or tarp (for distilling water or collecting rainwater)

2. Light

Although it is possible to survive without light during a SHTF situation, you will quickly find that there are many different types of events when having alternative lighting preps will make other survival tasks much easier to accomplish.

Examples of Light Preps:

3. Alternative Ways to Heat Yourself

Regardless of how SHTF, if it impacts your ability to stay warm, you’ll need to find alternative methods to stay warm if the power goes out or if you have to bug out.

Examples of Alternative Heating Methods:

  • Woodstove
  • Generator (Gasoline, Propane)
  • Kerosene Heater
  • Radiant Heat Campfire

4. Shelf-stable food

No matter what type of SHTF situation you may be facing, shelf stable food is a mandatory prep. It’s a good idea to stockpile some food that can be easily carried and eaten without much preparation in the event you do have to evacuate or bug out.

But even during a bug in situation, having food that can eaten quickly without cooking could mean the difference between your family eating and not eating if there is a need to stay hidden.

Examples of Shelf Stable Food:

  • Canned Meat (Chicken, Tuna, Spam, Sardines)
  • Tuna in Foil Pouches
  • Rice in Foil Pouches
  • Bouillon Cubes (Beef and Chicken)
  • Egg Noodles and Other Pasta
  • Beef Jerky
  • Dehydrated Vegetables and Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Home Canned Food
  • and more.

5. Communications Plan

Even though there are a myriad of different SHTF scenarios, nearly all of them have the potential to temporarily or indefinitely disrupt standard communication systems such as cell phones.

One of the mandatory preps regardless of how SHTF that you’ll want to have is an alternative communications plan so you can get in touch with family members and monitor news and events.

Examples of Communications Planning:

  • Specific system of text messages or phone calls to check in
  • Series of Whistles or Calls
  • Walkie Talkies
  • Ham Radio
  • Hand Gestures
  • Visual Signals

6. Supply Inventory & Cash on Hand

Another of the key criteria for being prepared when SHTF is knowing what you have available to use. You can’t prep effectively without the ability to determine quickly what you have and therefore what you still need.

Make sure you conduct a regular inventory of your supplies and always make sure you have cash on hand to get last minute preps if the opportunity presents itself.

Examples of Supply Inventory Systems:

  • First In First Out (FIFO)
  • Excel Spreadsheet
  • Rotating Food Stockpile
  • Community Inventory (what natural resources are in your immediate area?)
  • Skill Inventory (what skills can you draw upon from people in your group or immediate area?)
  • Cash in Your BOB
  • Book Cache for Cash

7. Regular Maintenance

One of the most important preps that a person can do to be prepared regardless of how SHTF is regular maintenance on vehicles, home, and other equipment.

Your designated bug out vehicle won’t get you far if the tires are bald and it only has half a tank of gas when SHTF. Get in the habit of topping off your gas tank every time you get paid or at least once per week, depending on how much you drive daily.

Examples of Maintenance Preps:

  • Gasoline and Diesel Storage (for vehicles, for generator, etc.)
  • Regularly check tires, fluid levels, etc on vehicles
  • Perform small repairs on house and livestock pens and fences
  • Keep tools like chainsaws, in good working order
  • Stockpile spare parts for your vehicle, small appliances, and plumbing and electrical equipment

8. Security and Self Defense

Most preppers will tell you that they spend a lot of time focused on security and self defense preps. It doesn’t matter what type of SHTF event is coming, one of the biggest threats when the dust settles will be other people who want what you have.

Security and self defense cannot be your only focus but it should definitely be a large part of your preps regardless of how SHTF.

Examples of Security and Self Defense Preps:

9. First-Aid and Medical

The chance of injury and illness during our normal daily routine is ever present. But when things go wrong, it becomes even more important to be prepared for medical emergencies.

Regardless of how SHTF, and even before SHTF, a comprehensive series of first aid kits might just save your life.

Examples of First Aid and Medical Preps:

  • Stockpile personal medications whenever possible
  • Main First Aid Kit (in the house)
  • Car First Aid Kit
  • Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK)
  • BOB (bug out bag) First Aid Kit

10. Knowledge and Training

Regardless of how SHTF, knowledge and training are a mandatory prep. The more knowledge and training you have, the less you must depend on gear and equipment to survive.

Knowledge and training help you figure out what to do and when to do it, so you can avoid reacting to a situation based on fear and possibly making a mistake. Set a goal to learn and PRACTICE a new skill each month, each quarter, etc. This will help make sure that you’ll be as ready as possible no matter what life throws at you.

Do you have any additional mandatory preps regardless of how SHTF? What are the preps that will come in handy no matter what the situation? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

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About Megan Stewart

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Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart. For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of six grandsons, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.

6 comments

  1. Avatar

    Lots of good reminders, but hardly ever is the mention of prepping for if/when some Society comes back. Don’t you all think that we ought to have some basic papers like birth certificates, insurance papers, house titles, and so forth—- for “later” possibilities. Sure we need to prepare for the WORST, but hope for the best. And somewhere in the middle is a shorter disruption or pause, in the on-the-grid world.

    • Avatar

      If all of society goes to shit the papers won’t matter. If you’re thinking natural disaster or fire keep the normal stuff in a safe. If you’re planning for getting stuck on the road or out in the middle of a outting then you only need the usual you carry.

    • Avatar

      Yes, good point. We keep ours in a sealing type silicone bag in our little house safe. In the event we need to leave quickly, grabbing the bag is easily done

  2. Avatar

    Keeping up with your car is a good thing. I believe it is also important to be sure you have more than one pair of good working shoes that fit well, etc.

  3. Avatar
    timothy mcphillips

    I think water, food, shelter should be your first priorities. after that a good firearm a very good multi purpose knife, several bic lighters, a good bivy style sleeping bag, and a first rate first aid kit. get some skills, if you don’t all the preps in the world won’t help. communications is scary to me, any time you send a signal you give away your position. on the one hand that may be a good thing but then again it may not. make a plan and make your family attend a “dry run” , try to give them ideas on how it should go, what their part will be, get them skills, and always be willing to listen, they might surprise you and have a great idea.

  4. Avatar

    I like Megan’s priorities and explanations; these are, of course, complementary to everyday personal management and common sense. Ranking priorities is difficult because the situations faced will not always be identical, but these are all necessary considerations; any chink in the armor can be a vulnerability.
    To represent these actions a little differently, I have referenced the numbers to some survival priorities to show how they all complement each other.
    1. Assess, Plan, Execute, Refine (APER). “The plan is nothing; planning is everything.” -D. Eisenhower. Continual planning to accommodate your current situation and preparation to execute that plan will iteratively lead to a good/better/best solution. Be observant, START planning, execute that plan, and continually refine the solution. The planning PROCESS is PREPARATION. 6, 7, 8, 10
    2. First aid. Gear and knowledge can save you and others. 6, 9, 10
    3. Fire. Energy = survival. 3, 6, 10
    4. Shelter/protection. From elements, enemies, and exploitation. 2, 6, 8, 10
    5. Communication. Build your network. Even the solitary survivor can’t take on an army. 2, 5, 6, 8, 10
    6. Water. Store and procure. 6, 10
    7. Food. Store, procure, hunt, and grow. 1, 4, 6, 10

    If I could add one additional priority, it would be mobility; it is likely we may need to move. Mobility might coincide with “Execute” or “protection”, but was addressed by #7 vehicle maintenance above. Mobility would require a vehicle/fuel, an animal/food, and/or personal fitness (walking, hiking, running). All of those require a degree of knowledge and preparation!

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