18 Must-Know Hints for Novice Preppers

James Walton
By James Walton December 23, 2016 11:30

18 Must-Know Hints for Novice Preppers

I can clearly see and feel the moment in my life when I realized just how vulnerable I was to the terrors of the world. I was surrounded by a soggy earth riddled with fallen trees and rush waters. It was the aftermath of a hurricane that battered my community. Outside my four walls was war zone. In stark contrast I watched my beautiful wife cradle my newborn son. He was about 1 month old at the time.

Two massive oak trees had fallen in the road and blocked our route out of the neighborhood. We were low on diapers and formula. We were week to week shoppers and lost everything in our fridge. Thankfully no one was hurt but in my quiet moments I realized the failure in my inactions. I was made completely aware of just how unprepared I was.hurricane damage

It had been years since I felt such failure. As a father and a husband, I felt like my family was left out in the cold. The very next week I started ingesting tremendous amounts of prepper media. If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self I would offer up the following 18 tips I wish I would have known before I started prepping to a young and defeated James Walton.

Take a moment and peruse these great tips from someone who has walked through the minefield and stepped on a few. Just keep in mind I am on part to step on some more. That is the nature of risk. Make no bones about it. Prepping is a risky endeavor but it’s one in which you are given a choice in the risk you take. The future may not afford you such choice.

    1. Everything doesn’t have to get done today

It may feel like there is no time but a well thought out plan will get you further, faster. In fact, you will find yourself making rash decisions if you push the pace on preparedness without planning. For every one great prepping site, there are 10 that are just trying to sell you a debit card that turns into a knife, screwdriver, Allen key, water filter and a comb. It will cost 20 bucks and fall apart in a week. So above all, be careful and take your time in the beginning.

    2. Enjoy the ride

You are setting out on one of the most rewarding and brave treks of your life. Prepping won’t just make you safer it will also make you better in many ways. Remember that the climb is often more rewarding than the peak.

    3. Don’t be afraid to talk about it

There is a lot of talk about OpSec and keeping things “hush-hush”. Live honest! The whole point of prepping is to eliminate fear (this is the personal opinion of the author, not necessarily our website’s opinion).

    4. Food storage is not exclusive to freeze dried meals

Integrate innovative gardening methods like hydroponics and greenhouse during the winter. Also, consider livestock. Not cows! Try chickens and rabbits.

Related: Top 9 Animals to Raise in a Post Apocalypse World

    5. State run emergency preparedness tax holidays

Once a year we get a tax-free holiday to buy flashlights, tarps, generators, chainsaws and various other emergency preparedness items.

    6. Silver and gold are fun to collect

You may have been terrified into buying precious metals. Concerns about the dollar and the economy can do that. Now take a break and enjoy the beautiful design and look of the silver you are buying.

    7. Babies and pets must be included

Think about food, clothing, water, waste and mobility!

Related: 19 Survival Skills You Should Teach your Children

    8. Give entertainment more weight

Surviving is one thing, but there will be many hours that you will want to fill. This could be cold, west miserable hours. Make sure you have back up electronics, board games and other things your family enjoys.

    9. If you don’t train on it, you’re not that good at it

When it comes to things like bush craft, shooting or escape and evasion, and your practice consists of reading articles about said topics, you’re not that good. Practice!

    10. From scratch cooking is an often-neglected topic

Learn to cook everything from scratch! Cooking is the most neglected skill in our lives. When you become a master at manipulating ingredients you will live a healthy life. There are very real benefits and freedoms that go along with being able to cook.

    11. Sometimes writers can go a little far

Never forget this is business of fear and uncertainty. The further you can be pushed the more you will be hooked. Writers will do what they must do to sell products.

    12. Prepping is a daily responsibility

Do something every day to improve your level of preparedness. This might sound hard but the more you integrate things like fitness and teaching into your preparedness plans the easier it will be.

    13. Grow more food!

Related: Top 10 Foods to Grow for Survival

    14. Study the 1800’s and how people lived

They knew how to survive in a world where something like an EMP or nuclear war could thrust us into. They had amazing practices and processes.

Related: 30 Lost Ways of Survival from 1880 We Should All Learn

    15. Your community is everything

Begin to include your community in your moves towards self-reliance. You cannot go into a community meeting talking about martial law; however, you can recruit members in your community by softer means. A great first step will be to start a community garden.

Related: Who Would You Choose as Your SHTF Companion?

    16. There are more of us around than you think

Preppers are everywhere! They just don’t talk about or don’t define themselves as such. Just think about that for a moment. I have met several in my neighborhood alone.

    17. Some people don’t wanna hear it

Some people want to live under the veil and hide from the real threats. Some of it is due to the work, some is due to the bliss they find in ignorance. Don’t badger them. Just let them find their way. Be a great example, but not a nag.

    18. Prepping and self-reliance will improve your daily life!

Many of the above listed are solid GOLD! The onset of one’s path towards self-reliance and independence or just emergency preparedness is unique. Even with these 18 tips you will still make some tough decisions. Hindsight will always be 20/20. We simply can’t prevent that. I will assure you that these tips will give you a leg up on those just jumping without them.

That said, these are just the experiences of one man. If you don’t agree with all 18 tips than don’t take advantage of them. Everyone’s situation is different. These are tips not rules so feel comfortable deviating. This was merely a practice in preventing unnecessary pain and loss of hard earned dollars.

What advice would you give to someone new to prepping?

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James Walton
By James Walton December 23, 2016 11:30
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  1. Ken December 23, 14:05

    Good stuff. Marital Law and Mob Rule are 2 sides of a coin–do hypotheticals on how to hide, negotiate, and recruit in uncertain times. You were inoculated by a near miss–the rest of us might not get to practice! BoB’s, scouting trips, map and compass exercises, auto repair, teams, and hiking boots are all good. How to go from 3 day, to 30 day, to 90 day, to 1 year is a good exercise for gathering the tools and knowledge for anything!

    Reply to this comment
    • Sideliner 1950 December 24, 15:51

      Ken…sorry, couldn’t help laughing as I read what is most likely just a typo…I’m pretty sure you meant for it to be shown as “Martial Law”. Still, you’re right, “Marital Law” and “Mob Rule”…well, depending on where you live, at least, you might be right either way!

      Agree with you, good stuff in the article.

      Merry Christmas to us all!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Homesteader December 23, 14:28

    In our early days of prepping, we made a lot of mistakes. Some were costly, others not so much. The level of information available today is almost overwhelming compared to just twenty years ago. I cannot stress how important numbers 1 and 7 are. Take you time. Don’t rush into things. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And please don’t forget to prep for your babies and pets.

    When it comes to babies, always think ahead. They grow so fast that if you stock the size diaper they wear today, it will be too small in a couple of months. Cloth diapers are basically one size fits all and have a variety of uses after the child is out of diapers. As an alternative to buying expensive jars to baby food, learn to make your own. It isn’t difficult and the baby gets better nutrition. I was making baby food back in the ’70’s when my son was little.

    The same goes for your pets – learn to make their food and treats. I save over $120 a month by making my dog’s food and treats. Plus you don’t have the worry of pesticides and other harmful ingredients that have been so common in today’s pet foods.

    Making food from babies and/or pets goes hand-in-hand with learning to cook from scratch or near-scratch (#10 on the list). Components are far cheaper than a prepared product. Plus, with a little imagination, you can create a larger variety of meals than you could ever store in their prepared form.

    One word of caution – Don’t store flour. Store wheat berries and grind your own flour as you need it. Flour, in its finished form, will go rancid and anything you make from it won’t taste right. Flour can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer but who has a freezer big enough to store 50 pounds of flour? Where would you store that flour when there’s no power?

    Prepping is quite enjoyable. You’ll be amazed at the peace of mind you’ll have when you are ready for that next big snow storm and don’t have to resort to panic buying like most people. Prepping isn’t just for big SHTF events but for day-to-day stuff too. If you get sick or the car breaks down, you’re ready for it. It’s amazing how once big events become more manageable bumps in the road just because you took the time to prepare.

    Reply to this comment
    • Wannabe December 23, 23:40

      No problem with flour. Mylar bags and five gallon food grade buckets. Throw an oxygen absorber in bag which is placed in bucket, fill with flour and seal bag. Lasts years. We opened a bucket after two years of storage and it did just fine. Many videos on you tube concerning this. I have 200 pounds of flour and 200 pounds of corn meal all stored like this.

      Reply to this comment
      • Homesteader December 24, 04:19

        You’re lucky. I have not had any luck storing ground grains such as flour or corn meal, so I just store the whole grain whether it’s wheat, oats, corn or barley and grind what I need. I lost over 50 pounds of flour stored like you have yours. It was so bad it could only be composted. That’s why I made the recommendation that I did.

        Reply to this comment
        • Barbara December 24, 04:38

          I agree with you. It would be better to grow, grind and cook your grains than storing some that may not make it. I am getting ready to learn how to make my own masa harina, since the only way i can get it is online. so better to get dent corn seeds, grow, dry, cook, grind and cook again than to buy and store something that may not make it. Of course the seeds may not make it too. I like the idea of just grinding a little more than needed. There is so much to learn and to teach as you go. Thank you for your informationl.

          Reply to this comment
        • Wannabe December 27, 13:37

          Please share how you store the whole grain and what do you use for grinding? I’m interested in learning. Thanks for info.

          Reply to this comment
          • Homesteader December 28, 01:45

            I store the whole grains in mylar bags in 5-gallon buckets with oxygen absorbers, just like you said you do for flour. For some reason, my flour always goes rancid even stored like that. Some of the grains I purchase are already in 6-gallon buckets, nitrogen-flushed and with oxygen absorbers. Others, like corn, I have to prepare myself.

            I use a Country Living Grain Mill for grinding. My son rigged up an old stationary bike so that I could just pedal to run the grinder. It takes less than 30 minutes to grind enough flour for the two of us for a week or so. We bought a cheaper grain mill but it was slow and threw flour everywhere but the bowl. It is wise to invest in a really good mill especially if you plan on making it your primary source for flours. Not only will it make grinding faster and easier but like the Country Living Mill, it can usually be hooked up to a motor or bike to make the job go even faster. Any flour I make gets stored in the freezer until I’m ready to use it.

            I’ll be happy to answer any other questions that I can for you.

            Reply to this comment
    • Tom December 24, 20:14

      It would be good to share the mistakes with others to keep us from making them.

      Reply to this comment
      • Homesteader December 28, 02:46

        There will always be mistakes. That’s just part of the learning process. In my early days of prepping, I was collecting things willy-nilly without much of a plan. I did not take the time to learn what I really should be doing and how to do it. Plus I was trying to do something my then-husband didn’t believe in and would remove any preps he’d find when I wasn’t home, so I wasn’t making any progress either. Make sure everyone is on board with prepping or it will be more difficult than it needs to be.

        Then through sites like this one and others, I began to learn what to do. And one of the best things I did was to develop a mindset for prepping. I would ask myself if something I was considering buying was a want or need. If it was a want, was it necessary to survival. If the answer was no, I didn’t buy it. After a while, it became second nature to me. After that, making a plan was easy.

        With the help of my son, we learned ways to always have water. Even if we had to haul it from the creek or catch rainwater, we learned how to purify it. Then we moved on to food.

        I learned to keep an eye out for really good sales on food items, especially those that I could either easily store as is, or dry or can. One thing that means is not being tied to shopping at only one store. All stores have lost leaders, that is, something priced really low just to get you in the store. That’s when to stock up. But only buy what you will eat. If it is something you are not familiar with, don’t buy it unless you’re going to try it right now. In an SHTF event, you don’t want to be eating a lot of strange foods. Learn to use a pressure canner and you’ll never regret it.

        Once food and water were taken care of, items like those for medical care were next for us and learning what to do without a doctor. The list goes on and changes as we change and grow with our knowledge of “the old ways”.

        As I’ve said in my other posts on here, I have not been able to store flour. That, coupled with buying the wrong grain grinder, then having to purchase a different one were probably my overall costliest mistakes. Not having a plan of what to do and not having everyone on the same page can lead to some very expensive experiences too.

        I hope this helps you some. Questions? Ask me.

        Reply to this comment
    • WarDog November 28, 00:40

      Dude, I have a question about your comment in paragraph three….”Making food from babies and/or pets..”?!?
      Should you kill them early on or just wait for them to die on their own before turning them into dinner?

      Reply to this comment
      • Homesteader November 28, 05:27

        The choice is yours. But what I meant to say was “Making food FOR babies and /or pets…”!!! I don’t know how many times I’ve read that and never caught my mistake. C’est la vie!

        Reply to this comment
  3. Barbara December 24, 04:18

    #14 Go to a Rendevous, Mountain Man era. So much to learn and so much fun being involved. There are women only groups that go out and learn as much as they can. I learned before moving to Montana, had it not been for the two groups I was involved with, I would have been lost out there. There are many out there that would help anyone really interested in the pre 1830’s, mountain man time. All of their information would be a good learning experience in a preppers list.

    Reply to this comment
  4. hidden December 24, 19:27

    you need to have the correct clothing and footwear for the environment you may be in or going thru.
    learn what it means to “go grey”.
    then observe and practice

    Reply to this comment
  5. MLG January 26, 15:28

    I enjoyed this article. The reason I don’t like to tell people about my food storage and other preparations is because I don’t want everyone coming to my house asking or demanding to have my things. I want to move a little more out into the country but right now I have neighbors. Not that I don’t want to help but I want to offer as opposed to it being demanded from me, which would be scary.

    For storage, I like milk crates, which are less expensive (before the school year starts), and which makes it easy to transport canned goods, hygiene products, whatever will fit. Also, I have found that preparing my area with shelves is so much more effective when I get the area ready first as opposed to just buying hordes of things and then trying to figure out where they will go. I have done it both ways. Definitely preparing how items will store and where they will store will save a lot of time and stress.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Ready Lifestyle August 23, 02:45

    One of the things that always gets me in my day to day life is the types of people that will accept the fact that something catastrophic could happen and the types of people that simply will not accept it.

    Survival is 90% mindset. If you go into a survival situation with the preconceived notion that “this can’t happen to me” then you’re already behind the power curve!

    Reply to this comment
    • Homesteader August 23, 15:04

      Do you remember the story of the little red hen or the fable of the ant and the grasshopper? People who do not prep are just like the “friends” of the little red hen or the grasshopper left out in the cold. They expect those of us who do prep to take them in when something happens but they are in for a rude awakening.

      Several years ago, I had several people tell me that they were coming to my house when it hit the fan. I made up a list of duties I expected them to perform if they did show up. When they would start talking like that, I’d simply hand them the list and say “OK, but this is what you can expect when you do show up.” All backed down immediately. They wanted refuge but didn’t want to help maintain that refuge. On the bottom of that list were the words “No Work, No Food, No Exceptions” in big bold letters. That was the one statement that stopped them all.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Labienus October 24, 19:11

    My advice:
    Think of all the people you love and cherish.
    Now, think of a horrible event be it war, pandemic, storms or what have you.
    Imagine them all dying horribly, because you did nothing. You didn’t prepare for anything. You let them down. You let them die.
    Want to avoid it? Be proactive and get ready.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Fuzzy1949 August 9, 22:42

    Go ahead and talk about your preps. The neighbors won’t mind. But when it hits the fan and your neighbors are beating down your door demanding that you feed them what are going to do then? Most likely you will be killed when your “friendly” neighbors do break down your front door. Then where will your wife and baby boy be? Your wife will most likely be raped multiple times before she either goes insane or dies from her injuries. As for the infant you will find him lying on the floor dead from some heartless hungry person that is no longer human. Enjoy your talk.

    Reply to this comment
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