Procrastination. It is such a bad word it really should have only four letters. Preppers are not procrastinators by nature, but it has been known to happen, especially when there are so many big items on the preparedness “to do” list.
Neglecting to prepare thoroughly and expeditiously can, and likely will, get you killed during a SHTF scenario.
There are many tasks you may be postponing and shouldn’t be, but here are twenty survival things you shouldn’t postpone any longer.
Make Copies of Essential Documents
If you haven’t already, you need to gather all your family’s IDs and make copies of them. Make sure to have at least one ID that contains a picture of each of your family members.
This way, if you and your loved ones are trying to reach each other’s destination, you will be able to show a picture of him/her to people that you’re passing by to see if they have seen them and what direction they were headed.
Also, keep at least two photos of your children in your wallet and make sure the pictures are current.
You should also keep copies of everyone’s birth certificates and social security cards. If there are any allergies, medical conditions, or current prescriptions being taken in the family, you should make at least one copy of their medical records.
Do not forget to create a list of contact information for both yourself and extended family and friends. Keep this information in your bug-out bag, so if your children are forced to go on without you, they can try to find their way to a safe space with family or friends.
Gathering all your family’s documents and making copies might sound like a hassle, but you will be thankful for doing it in the end.
Stock up on Baby Supplies
If you are a mother or father already, you already know how crucial it is to be stocked up on all your baby’s essentials, so your baby does not go without. Most parents forget to buy extra baby products until last minute due to the busy life of being a parent.
Can you imagine waking up one morning to the world changing completely, you hear your baby screaming in the other room wanting a bottle, you run out to the kitchen, open the cabinet and see an empty cupboard?
It’s time to start putting a container of formula back each time you go out to buy a can of formula (if your baby is formula-fed, of course).
Let’s say you get a can of formula every other three days, if you buy an extra container to put back to stock up every time you go get one, you would have an extra three cans a week. Keep those in your stockpile and you will have 12 cans of formula within a month to save back.
For mothers that cannot breastfeed or choose not to, formula is an absolute must. If you cannot afford to purchase extra cans of formula to just put back, you should make your own formula.
Below is a reliable recipe for homemade raw milk formula for babies that you should print out for when SHTF:
- cow’s milk (whole raw) – two cups
- homemade liquid whey – ¼ cup
- lactose – 4 tbsps.
- bifidobacterium infantis – ¼ tsp.
- good quality cream – at least 2 tbsps.
- cod liver oil (high-vitamin fermented) – ½ tsp.
- high-vitamin butter oil – ¼ tsp.
- expeller-expressed sunflower oil – 1 tsp.
- coconut oil – 2 tsps.
- extra virgin olive oil – 1 tsp.
- nutritional yeast flakes – 2 tsps.
- gelatin – 2 tsps.
- acerola powder – ¼ tsp.
- filtered water – 1-7/8 cups
- In a Pyrex measuring pitcher, put two cups of filtered water in, then remove only 2 tbsps. which will give the 1-7/8 cups of water total.
- Over a medium flame, put half of your water into a pan.
- Next, you will want to add your lactose and gelatin to the pan and stir while letting it dissolve.
- After the lactose and gelatin dissolves, you need to remove the pan from heat and add the rest of you water.
- After your mixture has cooled down for a couple minutes, you will need to stir in high-vitamin butter oil and coconut oil. Don’t stop stirring until it melts.
- Grab a blender and mix the rest of your ingredients together.
- Blend for approximately three seconds after adding your water mixture.
- You can now pour your homemade formula into a glass jar or glass bottle and refrigerate. Voila! Your baby is ready to eat!
Stocking up on diapers and wipes is also a very wise choice. With as fast as infants and toddlers go through diapers a day, it’s safe to say you will run out of these essentials quickly. Learning how to make your own cloth diapers would be the right route to take, especially because you won’t ever run out this way.
Even if you are currently not a parent, anything can happen when SHTF. Prepare for the unexpected. You could become pregnant during a world disaster, so it is best to educate yourself on these baby essentials now.
Maybe even stock up little by little each month and put them back for when a disaster will occur. If it’s not you that becomes pregnant, it could be your sister, daughter, or other female loved one.
Stocking condoms and other types of birth control is also highly recommended.
Attend a First-aid Class
There are so many opportunities to join a first-aid class, but this is one task that a lot of us have yet to do and keep putting off. Learning how to treat burns, cuts, bandage wounds, and knowing how to care for various medical emergencies could save a life.
Hopefully you will have a nurse or doctor in your group but there is a chance you will not. If one of your family members are out hunting for food and cut themselves with their hunting dagger, you will need to know how to accurately treat his cut before an infection would begin.
After your first-aid class, get your first-aid kit out and teach your spouse and children what each item is used for and how to use it.
Who knows if that could be you on the ground in too much pain to tell your loved one how to care for you. It’s best to teach them the basics now while you can.
Visit Your Dentist
As silly as it sounds and as much as you don’t want to, going to the dentist now could save your life when SHTF.
Dentists are known to detect health issues before they become too serious. However, if you neglect your dental hygiene and have a gum disease that goes untreated, chances are it will lead to various other problems.
Therefore, you should call to make an appointment to get your gums checked and to make sure you are still cavity-free with no dental problems what-so-ever.
After you go to your check-up, start educating yourself on dental care so you can prepare post-SHTF. Did you know that one simple abscessed tooth could kill a person?
You will not be able to run to your nearest dentist office after SHTF, so you will need to know not only the basics of dental hygiene but also for emergency dental care.
While gaining more knowledge in dental care and hygiene, you should look up ways to make your own toothbrush and toothpaste. As a prepper, you should already be stocked up, but eventually you will run out, so it is best to find recipes now while you still have access to a computer or phone.
Don’t forget to switch out your toothbrush after every illness you experience so the germs can’t re-enter your mouth after you overcome the sickness. The less illnesses passed around during SHTF, the better.
While thinking of different case scenarios to happen during TEOTWAWKI, you may think you are ready…but are you truly ready? Are you just thinking of the basics such as stocking up, and planning an evacuation plan? That’s the easy part of prepping.
As a human, it is in our nature to help others in need and to help care for everyone. When SHTF, you can no longer think of everyone else and need to put your own first. Everyone had the same opportunity as you to prepare for different types of SHTF scenarios.
If you give in to a family and give them a jar of your canned food, guess who will be back for more? That jar you just gave away is also a jar of food taken right out of your kid’s mouth.
On the other hand, what if you stand your ground and tell the family no and they pull out a gun? Will you be ready to protect your family and shoot first?
If not, your family could lose you, or all your food supplies could be stolen. You must always put your family first in a situation like this, no matter what.
You need to start preparing yourself mentally and think about every possible scenario you can think of and how you would react. Get with your family and whoever else you will have in your group and over-talk to make sure everyone agrees and will be on the same page.
If you are a very busy individual, working out will more than likely be postponed because of your schedule. When you think of preparing for when SHTF, staying in shape is more than likely not on the top of your list.
Exercise has so many amazing benefits (releases endorphins, builds stamina, increases likelihood of living longer, etc.) and is extremely crucial to your health.
There are hundreds of reasons you should start working out more before SHTF. Some examples include:
- carry more equipment for a further distance
- outrun punks and win in hand-to-hand combat
- strength to carry buckets of water from your watering source to bugout location or home
- be able to walk 100+ miles, depending on if you were home or out running away
- holding your kids while walking them to bugout location or home
Educating Loved Ones
You may be postponing teaching your loved ones’ survival tactics because you want to take care of everyone and let them know they can depend on you.
As much as they would love to not have to worry about anything because you will be taking control and keeping them safe, what if something happens to you? While there is still time left, you need to teach your loved ones’ the basics.
There are so many different tactics they will need to know to survive but the most important: food.
Does your spouse, sibling, parent know how to shoot a gun? If not, now is the time to engage in target practice. Show them how to re-load and how to clean the gun afterwards.
Now that you feel comfortable enough to let them shoot on their own, hunting comes next. Teach them everything they need to know about hunting and take them, so they can get hands-on experience before their life depends on it. Once your loved ones are familiar with hunting, you need to teach them how to butcher.
After you have educated them on meat for food, move on to the plants and berries. Take your loved ones out in the woods and show them what they can eat and not eat.
Make sure to quiz them on it later so you don’t have to worry about them not knowing the difference between the poisonous and non-toxic berries and plants.
Stockpile Extra Clothes
As a prepper, you are already aware of the importance of stocking up. But, did you think about getting extra clothes in different sizes for you and your loved ones?
If you haven’t already, you should go check out clearance sales or yard sales for clothes that are a couple sizes smaller than your current size. When SHTF, you are going to lose weight by not eating as much and more physical activity.
For children and teenagers, make sure to stock up on sizes for them to grow into and several pairs of shoes for each individual because they will be living on a rugged terrain and ruin the shoes more frequently.
During the winter time, go get cheap summer outfits and during the summer, make sure to stock up on warm snow gear for everyone.
You never know what season we will be experiencing when SHTF, so it is best to get all the extra clothes now, so you don’t have to worry when the time comes. If SHTF during the winter, you don’t want to be walking around in a tank top, shorts, and flip flops. We must always be prepared.
Even if you are one of the most experienced preppers, there is always something new you can learn. Get books, magazines, DVDs and become more knowledgeable in new survival tactics to enhance your skill set and then share your knowledge with your family.
Go to meetings where you can discuss the basics of prepping and the lifestyle. Join online prepper forums so you can make new friends that share the same interests as you and share your beliefs, ideas, and how you would handle SHTF situations.
You could broaden your prepper knowledge more than you could imagine and feel accomplished helping others, as well.
Who knows what information they gave you could have benefited you and your family by saving your life or if your information to them could have saved their life.
Scouting Your Bug-Out Routes
One of the most important aspects of prepping is being ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Have you planned out your evacuation routes? No?
If not, how are you sure you can depend on them to get you and your family to safety? You need to start scouting out potential paths now.
Make sure to take into account any possible obstacles, like flooded roads or heavy traffic. You also need to find safe havens along the way, places where you can take a break and rest if needed.
I’ll guarantee you that if you have put this essential step off for a while you’ll find at least one or two routes you assumed were GtG are now anything but. And if a disaster hits while you’re still trying to find an alternate route, you might not make it out at all.
Scouting your routes must be done seasonally, like maintaining your home or equipping your vehicle. That means you should be going out every summer and every winter to assess the viability of your routes, and updating your plans as needed.
Packing Your BOB
Don’t try to hide it. I know there are some of you reading who have plenty of survival gear and perhaps even have a pack for it, but you have not properly packed your BOB. You’ve been meaning to do it “one of these days” and that day has yet to come.
If something happened tomorrow, would you be ready to go? If not, then you need to start packing your BOB today. It’s not as daunting a task as you may think.
And if done in small increments, it won’t be nearly as overwhelming. Start by packing the most essential items. The rule of thumb is to pack the items you would need to survive for 72 hours.
But be sure to customize your list according to your specific needs. You may need to pack more medical supplies if you’re injured, or more camping gear if you’re bugging out into the wilderness.
It’s also important to remember to pack your BOB with the right things. What good is all that gear if you can’t carry it with you? Make sure your pack isn’t too heavy and that you can actually wear it for an extended period of time.
Just like scouting your routes, packing and repacking your BOB should be something you do on a regular basis, both to become more familiar with it (so you can do it in the dark) but also so you can inspect the gear inside for any signs of degradation or decay.
Overtime, your priorities, plans and other survival-centric factors will change, and this regular “BOB tune-up” will be a perfect time to adapt your load accordingly.
Sign Up for a Martial Arts Class
Plenty of preppers I know stock up on guns and other weapons to be “ready” to defend themselves when the SHTF.
But precious few put in the time, aches and pains getting better with their fists and feet. Hell, most people have not even been in a real fight!
The fact is, hand-to-hand combat is one of the most efficient ways to take down an unprepared and unsuspecting opponent, and you are far, far more likely to need these skills than any gun.
The thing is, coming out victorious in hand-to-hand combat takes training. A lot of it.
If you’ve been meaning to sign up for a class but keep putting it off, now is the time to do it. These skills and the attendant neural pathing that makes them automatic take a lot of reps to cement.
You may never have to use those skills in a real life or death situation, but there’s no harm in being prepared. And who knows? You may even enjoy yourself in the process.
The best martial arts systems for preppers are ones that focus on efficient striking and grappling based on real-world usage, not fancy pants ancient techniques. Boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazillian jiu-jitsu, MMA and wrestling are all great foundational skills that will serve you well and toughen you up!
Rotate Your Food, Water and Medicine
One of the worst things you can do as a prepper is to horde supplies without a plan for preventing waste. Not only does it go against the whole ethos of being prepared, but it also creates a logistical nightmare when you have to rotate everything.
The fact is, you should be rotating your food, and water anyway. It’s not something that should be done “just in case”, it’s something that should be done because it’s good practice.
By rotating your supplies, you ensure that they all remain fresh and effective.
You also get to use them, which is important from a caloric and financial standpoint. And finally, you reduce the chances of any one item going bad and rendering the entire cache useless in case they are stored in lots.
There are many ways to rotate your food, water and medicine. You can do it on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis, whichever makes the most sense for your situation.
Keep in mind some items have shorter or longer shelf lives that don’t necessarily fit into your schedule.
But, no matter which schedule you choose, make sure you are actually following it! It’s all too easy to put this important task off until later.
Start a Garden
A lot of preppers like to stock up on freeze-dried food and other long-term storage items, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But those items can be expensive, and they don’t offer the same nutritional value as fresh fruits and vegetables.
That’s why starting a garden should be one of your top priorities. Not only does it provide you with a steady stream of fresh produce, but it also allows you to become more self-sufficient, which is an important goal for any prepper. And if things really do go sideways, you’ll be happy you have that garden to fall back on!
There are many ways to start a garden, so find one that fits your needs and abilities. If you live in an apartment or don’t have a lot of space, you can start a container garden.
If you have a little more space, you can start a raised bed garden. And if you have a lot of space, you can start an in-ground garden.
No matter which option you choose, make sure you get started today! Gardens take time to develop and settle in to a sustainable program. Not for nothing, you’ll have plenty of “on the job” training to do yourself.
Found a Mutual Assistance Group
One of the best things you can do as a prepper is to join or form a mutual assistance group.
This is a group of people who have agreed to help each other out in case of an emergency. There are many reasons to join or form a mutual assistance group.
Perhaps the most important reason is that it builds real community. When times are tough, having a body of like-minded people to lean on can be incredibly valuable.
Another reason to join or form a mutual assistance group is that it allows you to pool resources. If something happens and half the group is wiped out, the other half still has access to food, water, shelter and medical supplies. This can be a lifesaver in a crisis.
Finally, joining or forming a mutual assistance group allows you to share skills. If someone in the group is a doctor, they can share their skills with the group in the form of first-aid and basic trauma training.
If someone in the group is an expert at gardening, they can share their skills with the group to ensure food production will scale up to benefit everyone in a crisis.
This cross-training also serves as a valuable hedge against disaster should the group “specialist” be incapacitated, separated or killed. This type of sharing is invaluable and can help you get through tough times.
There are many ways to join or form a mutual assistance group. You can do it online, in person or even through social media. The important thing is to do it today! Waiting even until tomorrow may be too late.
Learn the Edible Plants and Mushrooms in your Region
One of the best things you can do as a prepper is to learn the edible plant species in your region. This will allow you to forage for food in the event of an emergency.
Not only is foraging for food a great way to supplement your food stores, but it’s also a fun activity that can be enjoyed with friends and family. No mater where you live, every single region furnishes an abundance of wild edibles that can supplement your survival diet.
There are many ways to learn about the edible plant species in your region. You can take classes at your local community college or university, or you can attend workshops put on by local organizations.
You can also do some research online or in books. The very best way to do it is by a formal class or tour taught by a veteran instructor in the topic. Trust me: this is one of those things you cannot afford to get wrong!
No matter how you go about it, make sure you start learning about the edible plants and fungus in your region today. The more knowledge you have, the better off you’ll be in a crisis. Unless you really want to take the chance with that beguiling fungus…
Become an Expert with Knots
Another valuable skill to have as a prepper is the ability to tie knots. Knots are incredibly useful in a crisis situation, as they can be used to build shelter, lash items together and more. There are many different knots, but some are more important than others.
Becoming an expert at tying knots is not difficult, but it does take practice. The good news is it is easy to practice anywhere! You can start by practicing at home and then moving on to practice with ropes outdoors.
There are many different resources available to help you learn how to tie knots correctly, including books, websites and even videos.
No matter how you learn, make sure you start practicing today. After enough repetitions you’ll be able to tie a knot seemingly through sleight of hand!
Knowing a few basic knots could mean the difference between life and death in a crisis situation. Don’t know where to start? Analysis paralysis from staring at that Big Book of Knots? Here: The five knots every prepper should know are the square knot, the bowline knot, the clove hitch, the sheet bend and the reef knot.
Test Your Alternate Cooking Methods
Lots of preppers have romantic dreams of cooking wild-caught fish or big game over an open fire after “The End”, but most don’t truly know where to begin.
One of the best things you can do to prepare for a long-term emergency is to test your alternate cooking methods.
This includes methods such as solar ovens, rocket stoves, open fires and more. By testing these methods now, you’ll get a sense for how well they work and what adjustments you need to make.
Not only is it important to test your alternate cooking methods, but it’s also important to stockpile the necessary supplies.
This includes items such as pots, pans, utensils, fuel and more suitable for use other than in the kitchen. The key is to start practicing these techniques with the special kit now, before an emergency happens. That way, you’ll have confidence when the time comes.
As you gain experience, make things harder on yourself. Move from the backyard with a lighter to the wilderness with nothing but your ferro rod or a bow-drill. After you prepare a simple but filling meal that way it will really mean something to you!
Sharpen Your Knives and Tools
I cannot tell you how many people I know who use and abuse their cutting or chopping tools to the point of uselessness and then keep on struggling with them.
Even the most basic cutting tasks start to look like they are starting a fire as they frantically saw back and forth with a hopelessly blunt blade!
A dulled knife is nothing more than a liability in a crisis situation. Not only is it more difficult to use, but it’s also more likely to slip and cause an injury.
You need to set aside a weekend afternoon and tend to your tools, particularly your knives. There are many ways to sharpen knives and tools, but the most important thing is to be consistent. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy sharpening stones or gadgets.
In fact, you can probably use what you have around the house. The key is to find a method that works for you and stick with it.
Sharpening your survival knives and tools may seem like a mundane task, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to prepare for a crisis.
Learn to Use a Radio
I have bad news for you if you are planning to depend on a cell phone for comms in the aftermath of a major SHTF event.
Cell towers will be overloaded and useless. The only way to reliably communicate with the outside world will be via shortwave radio.
Radio is a great option for preppers because it is usually self-contained. So long as you have power, you’ll be able to transmit and receive.
There are many different ways to learn about shortwave radio. You can find books, websites and even online courses. But, like anything else, the best way to learn is by doing.
Get a set and start listening to shortwave broadcasts now so that you’ll be able to tune in when the time comes.
Not only will this allow you to stay up-to-date on the latest news, but you’ll also be able to communicate with other preppers in your area. A set in your vehicle and at home will be a comfort.
Now, I’m not saying you need to become a shortwave radio expert, but it is important to learn the basics. This includes learning how to tune in to various frequencies, identify stations and understand Morse code (if applicable).
By learning the basics of shortwave radio communication, you’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to communications after “The End.” Prepping is all about being ready for any situation.
And that includes situations where the usual communications grid is down and cell phones are useless. Don’t put off learning how to use a shortwave radio – do it today!
Don’t Put Off the Preps You Can Prepare Today!
It’s easy to put off the prepping tasks that seem daunting or overwhelming, but you can’t afford to do that. The best way to overcome these feelings is by starting small and gradually building up your skills and supplies.
Don’t wait until an emergency happens to start checking off the essential prepping tasks outlined here. Remember that tomorrow could be the day!
Brea is a stay-at-home mother to her two toddlers and newborn baby girl. She works from home as a writer and virtual assistant. She was raised by prepper parents who instilled the importance of self-reliance at a young age and now continuing on that tradition with her own children.
Brea lives on a homestead in Appalachia where she is always taking care of her farm animals or the crops. She doesn’t get much free time but when she does, you will be able to find her out in the woods on the back of a horse, hiking, or hunting.