I wrote this because I observed there is a ridiculous amount of “intro prepper” information out there, but it’s really disorganized. It hits people with overwhelming lists that tend to confuse and overwhelm more than they encourage. It’s helpful and orienting to think in terms of basic categories, in order to have your bases covered. This way rather than memorizing a million different items, you categorize them as one of many possible ways of dealing with about 6 to 8 easy-to-memorize categories.
I am torn between two schemas. One has three main categories, with a long list beneath one of them, like this:
- Additional infrastructure (auto/mechanic, welding/blacksmithing, electric, communications)
The other schema simply places all the infrastructural needs on the same list and includes security on that list:
Each of these categories means something different depending on what stage you are in: pre-collapse storage, post-collapse procurement for yourself, procurement for a gang or settlement, or long-term sustainable infrastructure. While I don’t believe in building a doomsday bunker, acquiring and storing some key items like water purifier pumps before the collapse can really ease and accelerate your settlement process. Some examples will be explained below.
Security is a euphemism; actually I mean your gang achieving military supremacy so it can dominate procurement. It helps to own guns and know how to use them – that’s a minimum security requirement, and helps you teach others. It also helps to have combat training, which you can either get by joining the military (the reserves/National Guard will still train you even if you don’t want to be a professional soldier), or by paying for actual private training like Pulse (which I discovered from Jack Donovan). Also play paintball or Call of Duty, though they’re not enough alone, obviously. Security requires having a gang, and in a settlement it means having a night watch. See the gang section of stages of survival.
Food is the obvious game of procurement and transitioning to agriculture over years, but this can still be eased by personally possessing some initial food stores (which can bribe some people to join your gang). Cooking is less obvious. This is where storing some cigarette lighters, portable stoves, or fire starters comes in handy.
Water means anything from initial bottled water, to canteens, to pulling the last fading water pressure out of any faucets you find, to having or finding a larger water pump or purification system, rainwater filtration, and ultimately securing a permanent water source like a lake, river, or still-functioning city line.
Sewage is anything from a few uses of a toilet, to digging a hole (with the foldable shovel you stored), to toilet paper (which you can store – major tradable commodity!), to establishing a permanent latrine site at your sustainable community. Eventually you might find some treatment specialist.
Transport is anything from having the shoes and clothes to get around, to having a backpack to carry supplies in, all the way to wagons, bikes, horses, cars, and trucks. Initially the only transport you need is your uninjured feet – shoes help – whatever clothes you need, and bags or backpacks to carry stuff.
Medical is first aid kits (storage!), splints for injured or broken bones, medical staff, practical medical books (might be good for storage), and ultimately anti-biotics which you will probably have to find by scrounging in abandoned pharmacies.
Disaster is kind of beyond your control, but you can try. Having an inflatable raft helps beat a flood. If there is some kind of poison or disease in the air, surgical masks and rubber gloves help, and can be procured or stored beforehand. You might go in for a few gas masks, if only to let people out for procurement runs. Ultimately, if the collapse is from a disease, water/sewage/hygiene issues are really critical. Minimizing physical contact helps especially with outsiders, and don’t get bitten by zombies.
Agriculture. Maybe you can’t build or buy a giant compound with enough farmland to be self-sustaining from the start. (Maybe you can? I’m jealous.) But you can buy some seeds and a bag or two of fertilizer to retrieve when you have a stabilized settlement that can begin experimenting with agriculture. Mainly knowledge is critical here, since you can probably find or raid whatever plants/seeds/supplies you need, so maybe have a few books in storage on how to get started, or practice by gardening.