When starting to think about the possibility of a likely “SHTF” scenario, with probable food and fuel shortages, power and utility cuts, and the internet and mobile communications going down, there are some things you can do now, by starting to acquire, store, grow and learn.
Note that in terms of a potential catastrophic scenario, you will need to think about preparing to survive by staying at home or where you are when disaster strikes (a more settled and in some ways, less challenging, scenario), as well as preparing to leave home and survive on the move (a more difficult scenario involving less familiar knowledge and skills).
What is ‘Prepping’?
‘Prepping’ or being a ‘Prepper’ is basically preparing and planning ahead to survive a zombie-style apocalypse where there may be widespread disruption or breakdown of goods, services and infrastructure. It usually involves stockpiling suitable foods and equipment, as well as learning off-grid survival and bushcraft skills.
If you’re new to the concept of “prepping”, you may first want to read this article by a UK-based ‘prepper’ covering the basics of what prepping is: https://www.ukpreppersguide.co.uk/what-is-prepping-why-do-people-prep-should-i-be-a-prepper/ [published 19/04/2018, accessed 19/07/2021], or download a copy here [PDF, 4 pages].
Watch this video entitled “Prepping 101 for Beginners“, brought to you by SensiblePrepper, a US-based prepping channel:
Video from: https://youtu.be/6hzyfx-GJVU [published 23/03/2020, accessed 11/07/2021].
We have listed some books focusing on general prepping and survival information below, followed by sections discussing the main categories of prepping you will need to consider, with more information, links and books for each of those. Finally, there is a general preparedness tips section at the end.
General prepping books
Many prepping books, websites and videos are American-based, because the prepping movement is well-established there. American prepping advice will have lots of relevance even if you don’t live in the US, but note there will be some key differences, for example, in terms of typical terrain, weather, plants/wildlife, existing infrastructure and availability of prepping products in your country, so bear this in mind.
We have concentrated on listing more recent books, so they will be more relevant. Note that some URL links may default to amazon.com, but if you wish to buy from amazon.co.uk, or another country’s amazon website, simply change the “com” to “co.uk” or the suffix for your country’s amazon website.
Prepping is a big subject, so in order to break it down, it can be useful to think about the following 6 categories, at least, when it comes to survival preparedness: Food and Water, Shelter, Power/Fuel and Warmth, Communications, Medicine/First Aid and Toiletries, and Self-Defence, Weapons and Hunting. Each is described below. This is followed by some general prepping tips at the end.
Food and Water
If you’re able to, it’s recommended you stay in your home in an emergency situation, as you are likely to have more supplies there, but in order to prepare for this, it’s important to stockpile at least 2-3 month’s supply of non-perishable food and drinking water.
MuchMoreWithLess has a list of the “30 Essentials for an Emergency Food Stockpile“, with some recipe ideas here: https://www.muchmorewithless.co.uk/essentials-emergency-food-stockpile/ [published 14/03/2018, accessed 19/07/2021], or download a copy here [PDF, 6 pages].
Planning for even longer would be better, but bear in mind that supplies eventually run out, and you will need fresh vegetables and fruits for health, so if you can, it’s best you also grow your own food, until such a time when some sort of normality returns, or a self-sustaining community is set up, although this might not occur for a while.
Many food plants and herbs grown from seed packets or nursery-bred baby plants will not propagate due to being genetically altered. Hence you will need to learn permaculture skills, seed saving and sustainable plant growing, in order to guarantee food and medicine for your future.
Here are some suggested books:
In terms of learning to forage (find edible foods in nature), remember that you will probably need country or region-specific books/information, because different plants grow in different areas. Here are some books on the subject:
Water supplies might dry up or not be available in a drinkable form. Thus it’s a good idea to always have some water purification tablets and/or equipment. Note that the standard, in-home water filter jugs will not be sufficient.
You may also need to prepare for more long-term water supplies – see “The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide” book (above) which covers collection and storage of water, creating wells/dams, etc.
Some links of suitable water purification items appear below:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Packs-PURIFICATION-TABLETS-Essential-Travel/dp/B00CJVPEZE/ (note that these types of products do tend to contain chlorine, which is toxic to aquatic wildlife).
To remove some of the nasties from water in a more natural, less environmentally damaging way, try Shungite stones: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Modern-Detoxification-Purification-Neutralizes-Antioxidants/dp/B085T4VNKJ/ (might not be suitable if water is contaminated).
Lastly, don’t forget that your pets will need food and water supplies too.
Shelter is essential. Depending on the situation, you may not be able to shelter in your home or under a roof, so creating a makeshift shelter for you and your family as quickly as possible should be top of your list. At least then you will have a warm, dry place to plan your next move… even if it’s only for a night or a few days, and then you can start on a more robust and semi-permanent shelter.
If you’re lucky enough to own a caravan or a camper van, you may have to hitch up and drive away from built-up areas. Once you’ve found a good spot, you’ll need to equip your van for off-grid living, so it’s a good idea to have all the bits you’ll need prepared in advance, such as wood burner, solar power, and materials for lean-to’s such as wood and canvas, ready to load into your van (or car) at a moment’s notice. Of course, this all depends on fuel availibility and the freedom of movement situation at the time.
Who knows how long your shelter will have to last, so build it strong and weatherproof and expect to stay for at least a few weeks/months, or until you have better knowledge of what the outside world situation is. Make sure you pack essential equipment in your bug-out bag (BOB – more info below) for building at least a rudimentary shelter. If you have the room and it’s not too heavy, a small tent is a really good idea.
Power/Fuel and Warmth
Section still in development
Some things you can do to keep warm in a house/building without power: https://urbansurvivalsite.com/ways-you-can-stay-warm-when-the-power-goes-out/
In times of chaos and breakdown, digital communications such as smartphones and email may not be the safest way of communicating, but will almost certainly suffer a loss of service, either intermittently or permanently.
While something like walkie-talkies may be suitable for short-range communications between family members, they are not suitable for reaching out to others for assistance, as you and the other person must each have one of a pair or set of linked walkie-talkies before you can communicate with each other.
CB Radio (Citizen Band Radio) is a cheap and effective way of medium to long-range communication as it doesn’t rely on third party corporations to supply a service. It is self contained and generates its own radio signals to send or receive and can be either home based or mobile, but requires a decent power source. Obviously the recipient must also have a CB set.
CB’s range in power, so the most powerful will have a greater distance range, but require a larger land-based aerial, whereas automotive mounted ones have a shorter distance range but have the advantage of being mobile.
Here are some links with information about CB Radios:
https://www.wearecb.com/best-handheld-cb-radio.html [accessed 18/07/2021].
https://www.thunderpole.co.uk/cb-radio-guide-cb.html [accessed 18/07/2021].
This video talks you through some of the latest CB Radios:
Video from: https://youtu.be/VOh9XhcWp1c [published 08/10/2020, accessed 19/07/2021].
Some useful books on survival communications in general:
Medicine/First Aid and Toiletries
As healthcare and medical systems may break down, along with other infrastructure collapses, we will all need to become more knowledgeable about First Aid, as well as alternatives to medicine, including herbal and other natural healing remedies (which after all, are often much more effective, with fewer side effects, than allopathic medicine).
An example of a basic First Aid kit appears below.
Your basic First Aid Kit should contain at least the following items: Bandages and Plasters, Scissors, Safety pins, Tape, Disinfectant, Pain medication, Latex gloves.
Luckily many plants and so-called ‘weeds’ which grow in the countryside around us have medicinal and healing properties. Like food foraging plants, medicinal plants will vary from continent to continent, and region to region, so keep this in mind.
Here is a guide to some of these plants in the UK: https://www.countryfile.com/how-to/unusual-medicinal-plants-found-across-britain/ [accessed 18/07/2021], or download a copy here [PDF, 5 pages].
Some books which may be helpful:
Self-Defence, Weapons and Hunting
There are two reasons why you may need to arm yourself in a prep situation. One is for self-defence because if there are limited resources, you may come under attack for yours, and the second reason is you may need to hunt small game if food supplies are dirupted.
Depending on the country you live in, some weapons are restricted. If you can get your hands on a firearm and enough ammunition and even some training then please do so, as this is the most effective weapon in almost every physical attack situation.
Otherwise longbows, crossbows, catapults (some pretty powerful ones are cheaply available online), and hunting/survival knives (hunting knives are stronger and more suited to heavy duty usage, but almost every kitchen in the world has some sort of carving knife, which will do the job) will have to do as an alternative and will usually be legal to buy.
A crossbow or longbow used correctly can have enough power for limited self defence and small game hunting. A full power air rifle (11-12ft/lb) can usually be owned legally without a license and can also be useful for small game. Weapons and their use can be a very personal thing, so use your discretion as to whether you should use them and in what situation.
Here are some links:
General Preparedness Tips
- Buy paperback or hardback books, rather than ebooks, and print out important information on paper, rather than saving it on your computer, so you have information to hand in the event of electricity and/or internet disruptions.
- Check use-by dates of all your stockpiled food and medicines every 6 months or so, and replace as necessary.
- Have a ‘bug-out’ bag (BOB) packed and ready – a rucksack with about 72 hour’s (3 day’s) essential supplies in it – usually one BOB per person, in case there is a situation where you and your family have to leave home in an emergency and survive on the run.
- For a comprehensive description of what to pack in your bug-out bag (BOB) and why, as well as a downloadable checklist for your BOB, see: https://unchartedsupplyco.com/blogs/news/bug-out-bag-checklist [published 16/04/2020, accessed 19/07/2021], or download a copy of the article and checklist here [PDF, 12 pages] and/or download just the handy 1 page checklist here [PDF, pages].
- Watch this video below talking you through the essential items of a typical “Bug Out Bag Survival Kit“:
Video at: https://youtu.be/6Gopx75USpA [published 17/05/2020, accessed 19/07/2021].
If you’d like to look more into why there may be global food shortages, infrastructure breakdown and a planned apocalyptic event, ‘Ice Age Farmer’ has a range of videos on this: https://www.bitchute.com/iceagefarmer/
Apocalypse bird image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay
Zombie image by currens from Pixabay
Dog and cat image by Elisabeth Leunert from Pixabay
Crossbow image by Capri23auto from Pixabay