The Prepper Website FREE Checklist for Preppers
When it comes to preparedness, many new preppers want to know where they should start. Throughout the years, I have been asked for a checklist or a guide that I could offer. The problem with using a guide or checklist that you find on the internet is that it is the checklist or guide for the person who wrote it. It might not apply to every prepper exactly! But, if you read the following checklist with the understanding that you need to make it your own and not just print it out and head to the store to check off the items you need to buy, it can be helpful to point you in the right direction for your preparedness.
Realize that preparedness is not a fad and it shouldn’t just be a “season” of life. It is a mentality of self-reliance that generations before us instinctively had. They knew that if they didn’t prepare for the future, that their families could and would suffer greatly.
Many times, modern preparedness romanticizes the need to prepare. There are many who believe that being prepared means that they should be ready for an extended camping trip. And although your preparedness may include some camping gear, being prepared means so much more. No emergency ever looks the same. And no emergency ever presents itself like we believe it should.
It is important to say here that prepper gear or prepper items don’t make you prepared! Having skills, being able to problem-solve, being flexible and adapting to the situation that you find yourself in are abilities that will take you a lot farther than just putting some preps in a closet and waiting for the apocalypse! So whatever you do, don’t neglect to obtain and practice preparedness skills.
Below, you will find a long list of items. Again, let this checklist guide you as you seek to be better prepared. As a bonus, I have turned this article into a prepper checklist that you can print-out and actually check-off items. I have provided the checklist in various downloadable formats below.
1. Water – The Most Important Checklist Item!
Water is the most important prep you could have. Without water, you’re dead – plain and simple! As a result of its importance, you need to know and have multiple ways to find, filter, purify and store water.
- Use an online map to find sources of water around your home. Look for creeks, ponds, rivers, water towers and even buildings that use a special key to open their outdoor faucets. You can drain water from your hot water heater too. Commit these areas to memory.
- Have a way to collect and store rainwater. A big tarp (just for this purpose) that you can string-up and stretch out when it is raining to fill-up containers would be a good idea.
- You need to have water storage containers. 55-gallon drums, big totes, 2-liter bottles, water bricks or anything else that can hold water will need to be utilized in a true SHTF situation. If you are desperate, use a big garbage bag to make a liner in a dresser drawer to hold water.
- Plan on a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person per day!
- Purchase a good water filter. Check out the Hydroblu Versaflow. I created a Video and FREE PDF tutorial on how to turn it into a family-sized water filter.
- Berkey Water Filters are good!
- DIY water filters with ceramic filters
- Purification tablets – Chlorine Dioxide/iodine
- Separate containers for dirty and treated water – plastic bins are good for this
- Solar or stovetop distillers
- Set up a rain barrel system
Food is so important. Although you can go longer without food than you can without water, you don’t really want to. Not eating cause people to get grumpy, not think straight and lose energy. Having food for a survival or emergency situation is vital!
And with food being so readily available today, it doesn’t make sense to not prepare a deep food pantry. This can easily be accomplished by just using dry and canned goods from the grocery store. However, there are other options for those who want to build a food storage system that goes beyond 30 days.
- Purchase food that your family will eat. There is no need to stock items that your family won’t eat when you have the ability to tailor a menu to their likes. There might come a time when they are forced to eat “whatever is available,” but don’t start that way if you don’t have to!
- Plan out a week’s worth of a menu using dry and canned goods. Then multiply that by 4 for 30 days of meals.
- Rotate your stock. Use the FIFO method – First In – First Out. The newest canned food should go to the back of your pantry as you move the older canned goods up.
- Understand that canned goods last a lot longer than the dates on the cans. Best buy dates are just dates that the food manufacturer guarantees freshness. Cans will last for a very long time! With that said, no the signs of contaminated canned goods: rust on the cans, leaking cans, etc.. Use your commonsense. If the food in a can smells and looks bad, throw it out! Don’t risk it!
- Make your own food storage buckets with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. You can easily store a lot of beans and rice. These buckets will last 20 years if they are stored in a cool, dry place.
- Pre-packaged long term food storage. Purchase from a reputable company.
- MRE’s – Meals Ready to Eat. These are heavy and expensive, but they are hardy.
- Consider PowerBars, trail mix, powdered protein shakes and packets that can be added to water to replenish vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Stock up on bulk spices and other condiments.
- Plan on supplementing your stockpile with a big garden.
- Plan for any special needs that you might have within your family. Do you have someone who needs gluten-free food items? There is pre-packaged long term food storage that can be purchased that is gluten-free. Also, you could consider using dried beans in a ground-up form as well.
- Don’t forget to learn the skills of dehydrating, canning and smoking your meat to help add to your food storage.
- Take the FREE Food Storage Course @ Prepper Website NET
3. Food Prep
All your food storage is for nothing if you don’t have a way to cook it! This is important because many factors play into food prep. For example, the easiest way to cook your food would be on your gas stovetop. But if the electricity is out, you don’t want to add the heat to your house. You can build a campfire, but you need wood. You don’t only need heat, you need pots and utensils and good hygiene practices to keep everyone healthy.
- You’ll need a lot of can openers for all of your canned food. It is smart to have several in case one or two fails.
- Gas Grill – Many gas grills come with one stovetop burner. This is a great alternative to using your stovetop in your home. Not to mention that a 20-pound propane tank will last a while.
- Camp Stoves are very easy to use and use small propane tanks that are very portable. There are attachments that you can purchase to convert the small tank fitting to a larger 20-pound propane tank, like the one you use for your gas grill.
- Butane stoves are small and the butane can be stored for a long time. This is a viable option for someone who wants a quick way to cook food.
- Top Lit Updraft Stoves are gasifying stoves that burn a wide range of debris like wood, pinecones and small sticks you can find on the forest floor. You can even make your own if you are crafty!
- Folding camp stoves are small stoves that can be packed away neatly in your bag. These can burn a wide array of wood pieces, but they don’t burn very efficiently. You will have to watch them closely to keep the fire going.
- Solar stoves are a great way to cook using the sun. It takes some practice, but you can even cook a cake in one if you have the right amount of sunlight. Solar stoves are also great to pasteurize water. Check out my review of the Solarvore Solar Oven.
- Wonder Bags are basically a big bean bag inside of a box. You heat up a dish to boiling, place it inside the wonder bag, cover it and let the heat finish the cooking process.
- You can also use a fireplace/ campfire to cook your food, but you will need a lot of firewood to sustain this over a long period of time. You might want to secure a grill that you can place over a fire.
- Don’t forget pots, utensils, cleaning supplies, buckets to wash dishes, sponges or cleaning rags and cutting boards.
4. Personal Hygiene/sanitary supplies
I’m not talking about looking good for your spouse or significant other here! I’m talking about prepping for your health! Staying clean is important to staying healthy. If preppers don’t maintain good hygiene, the whole family or group could become sick and die! There is a big difference between a First World and a Third World Country. Being in a true SHTF situation can make a First World Country become a Third World Country in very short order. This is very true when it comes to hygiene. This is something that most people don’t think about!
- Where is all the poop going to go? If you are in a temporary emergency and you still have water and can flush your toilet, you will be fine. The phrase, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down,” should be known by every prepper. You can even use pool water to flush the nasty stuff down the sewer. However, if you are in a real SHTF situation and pumps aren’t working to pump sewage down to the waste treatment plant, your sewers will back-up right into your home! You and your whole neighborhood will need to refrain from flushing the toilet. Another means of waste disposal will need to be utilized.
- A Humanure system might be one of the best ways to go for a community. This is basically a composting system for human poop. When done properly, the waste can become a very useful compost for gardening. The details of this system are beyond the scope of this list. For more information, get the book – The Humanure Handbook.
- In a short term emergency where toilets can’t be utilized, you can use a 5-gallon bucket and waste bags. Basically, line your bucket with a tall kitchen bag, use the restroom, throw in some kitty litter or wood chips to absorb the smell and liquid, tie up the bag and throw it in another bigger trash bag. They even make seats for 5-gallon buckets now, or you can make your own out of a pool noodle. Remember, this is a very temporary solution!
- On the topic of poop – You’ll want to stockpile a lot of toilet paper! Yes, you can use other things to wipe, but have you ever done so? As an experiment, go get some leaves, smooth rocks, phonebook pages or whatever. Use them! Then think about how that is all you will ever use once toilet paper runs out. Yeah. you’ll make room and stock-up alright!
- Soap and shampoo. Stocking up on this stuff is cheap at the moment. And storing it in your garage would be ok too!
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and deodorant so you don’t smell like a beast!
- Feminine hygiene products
- Towels, towels, and towels.
- Brush and combs
- Fingernail and toenail clippers
- Adult size wipes for emergency body washes
5. Shelter (Warmth/Shade)
Shelter is a topic that many preppers don’t focus on. It isn’t one of the sexy topics, so you usually get a few words about it here and there. The truth is that this topic is very important and those that are prepping should take the topic under serious consideration.
The reason many don’t think about shelter is that we have lived in climate-controlled environments for so long, we don’t really have a clue how living in extreme temperatures can harm us, and at that, very quickly. It just takes a multi-day heatwave in a major city to hear news about those who died due to heat-related circumstances.
But the truth is that the cold can kill you even faster than heat can. So, it is important to know your environment well and be prepared to adjust if you find yourself in a situation where your shelter temperature can’t be adjusted.
The ideas shared below are for times when your normal way of heating and cooling your home are not available.
- Winter – Close off one room in your home and have the family all stay together. Be mindful not to completely seal off the air circulation. Bodies in one room will add to the overall warmth of the room. Have many blankets available. Utilize some terra-cotta pot warmers and other candles to heat the room. It is surprising how much heat a few bigger candles can give off in a closed room. Dress in layers.
- Summer – Create drafts if possible by opening screened doors and windows. Close window shades to block the sun when possible. Drink cool liquids and stay hydrated. Wear breathable cotton clothes. Spray yourself down with a water bottle. Use a 12-volt USB fan with a battery bank charger to cool-off elderly people.
Other items that might come in useful when considering your shelter
- Tarps – You could use a tarp to make a room even smaller if you need to. Also, know how to make shelters in the wilderness. A tarp could even cover a damaged roof temporarily.
- Plastic sheeting/large plastic trash bags
- Sleeping bag
- Hand/body warmers
- Sleeping pad
- Hammock for sleeping outside when it’s hot
- Emergency/regular blankets
- Insect netting
- Extra stakes/rope/bungee cords
- Sewing supplies
Another area of preparedness that many preppers don’t think about is clothes. Washing and buying new clothes is just easy today. We are so far removed from having to sew our own clothes and scrubbing them clean on a rock by a stream.
Besides having the appropriate clothes for the season, you want to have a way to clean your clothes. There are many types of manual washing type buckets that you can purchase online. But you can also make your own washing bucket very easily.
Another consideration will be that you have enough underwear, t-shirts, and socks. Pants and even some shirts can be worn multiple times, but having clean undergarments will ensure that you keep your private parts dry and clean.
Also, don’t hesitate to store up clothes for yourself and for kids who are still growing. One great product that can help here is SpaceSaver bags. These bags can compact a lot of clothes or sheets into a small package.
Other items you should consider:
- Washing soap (consider making your own)
- Appropriate shoes/boots/snowshoes
- Rain gear
- Belt – regular/military type with small pouches
Medical preps and the knowledge that you should acquire to use your medical preps appropriately are very important. We depend so much on modern medicine nowadays. We run to the doctor the minute our temperature rises instead of watching, waiting and resting, acknowledging that a fever is your body’s natural way to deal with sickness.
Besides knowledge, medical preps need to include over the counter medicines and items.
I highly recommend getting Dr. Joe and Amy Alton’s book, The Survival Medicine Handbook. This should be the first book any prepper purchases. But there are other items you should consider to stockpile.
- Quality kit with adequate components for a multitude of emergencies. Start with a comprehensive first aid kit and then add to it.
- Meds: prescriptions, for allergies, pain, antibiotic ointment, etc..
- Quick Clot – used to Stop Bleeding quickly.
- Syrup of Ipecac (to induce vomiting if poisoned) get from your pharmacy.
- Extra gauze
- Sterile dressings
- N95 Masks
- Israeli bandages
- First Aid/Medical Instruments for dental emergencies/suture kit/snake bite kit / medical tools + tweezers & scissors
- Eyeglasses/contacts – If you are looking for a few extra pair for cheap I use
- Copies of prescriptions (scan them and add them to your digital vault as we discuss below.)
- Essential oils
- Herbal kits
- Eye Protection
Please understand that this is not a comprehensive list. This is just a sample of items you can stockpile.
One last thing that you need to remember about first aid/medical supplies is that you might think you have a ton of supplies, but in a real emergency, you will go through first aid supplies very quickly!
The ability to see in the dark plays a big part in your preparedness supplies. If you’ve ever been in a true blackout, you’ll know how thick the darkness can be. It is important to have light to see what you are doing and for your protection. It will also give the members of your family confidence to not fear when they hear the “bumps at night.”
- New LED flashlights with big rechargeable batteries are the way to go. The rechargeable batteries are cheap and last a long time.
- Headlamp – frees up both hands.
- Flashlight – hand cranked/solar/batteries/LED and regular bulbs
- Lantern (*small or large size) – hand cranked/solar/batteries/propane/mantel/ candle/LED and regular bulbs
- Extra batteries/power source
- Candles – regular white/unscented tall candles from Dollar Tree last a long time!
- Extra mantels/extra propane for lanterns
8. Communication (comms)
During an emergency situation, getting up-to-date information is important and also keeps you connected to what is happening out there in the real world. You’ll want to know what is going on!
- Cell phone – Check out my article – EDC for Regular People and Then Some! The One Item You’ll Go Back Home For!
- Radio – hand cranked/solar/batteries
- Radio w/ AM/FM/SW/Weather Bands
- Two-way radios to communicate with other members of your family/team if needed
- CB (citizens band)/GMRS (general mobile radio service)/FRS (family radio service) radios
- Ham radio – need a license to communicate in normal times.
- Morse code chart (print 4 free)
9. Power – Energy
There are so many portable items that are very useful in an emergency, but have one downfall is they require power. However, today’s prepper has many options that survivalist and most self-reliant types of the past didn’t have.
- Generators come in single/dual/triple fuel types. It might be helpful to have a generator that runs on gasoline and propane.
- Small Portable Solar Generator – There are solar generators that you can purchase put together for you, or you can make your own. Either way, using the sun to power your small electronics would be very valuable in a grid down, emergency situation.
- Small Battery Chargers – I highly recommend to carry one of these with you at all times to charge your phone if you ever find yourself in an emergency and need to make a call. However, the batteries are becoming cheaper and bigger and can power small USB devices too, like a fan that can help keep an elderly person cool in the heat.
- Hand-cranked radios and lanterns with USB power cords
- An Inverter is a very powerful tool to have in a grid down or emergency situation. You can connect them to your car battery (while it is running) to help power items in your home. Remember, your vehicle has a big gas tank and using a high wattage inverter is like having a small generator at your disposal.
Tools have always been important in society. In the right hands, tools can help you fix and repair anything that is broken, help you to earn a living and hold monetary value as tangible assets. The list below is just a shortlist of tools you should use.
- Repair tools – hammer/screwdrivers/pliers/wire cutters/nails/screws/crowbar/superglue/epoxy/spikes/pulley
- Axe (small or large)/saw (hand-controlled chain or special outdoor)/hacksaw
- Rope/wire/bungee cords/straps/zip ties
- Work gloves – You want to have a few different gloves for different jobs!
- Garden tools
- Duct tape
- Safety goggles
- Safety Pins
- Siphoning tube/hose
- Can of red and black spray paint to indicate emergency information
- Shut-off tool for gas/water supply
11. Personal Security
This topic is too extensive to cover it here adequately. So do your research and follow-up on this topic. Your family is depending on you!
- Firearms – Get the proper training and be prepared to use your firearm to protect yourself and your family.
- Pepper Spray
12. Ways to Make Fire
We are so far removed from the time when knowing how to make fire was the difference between life and death. But for most of history, this was the case. In an emergency situation, this might be the case for you too! This is a skill that needs to be learned, and not just in controlled environments. You need to know how to make fire when it is cold, wet and even in snowy conditions.
But besides the skills that you need to acquire, a few basic items should be included in your preps to help you get the spark to make a fire.
- BIC lighter(s)
- Ferro Rod
- Flint/magnesium starters
- Waterproof tinder/very fine steel wool
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Soak some cotton balls in petroleum jelly and place them in a Ziploc bag.
- char-cloth or other fire starters
There has been a negative stigma put on technology in the Preparedness Community that I have noticed. The reason I believe that this is the case is that many believe that there might be a time when an EMP or a Solar Flare basically renders anything electronic obsolete. But that is just one scenario. We shouldn’t throw out the advantages of technology because of the possibility of an EMP.
Technology can make things a lot easier and with new advancements in portable solar panels, charging up electronic devices is becoming easier and easier.
Here are a few items that Prepper should consider adding to their preps.
- The Amazon Kindle – The amount of knowledge that one Kindle can hold is enormous. Think about what it would be like in an emergency situation to call up books on a specific topic? You might not be able to carry around a whole library, but you can carry around a big library electronically! Besides purchasing preparedness books, there are many free ebooks and even PDF’s that you can add to a Kindle.
- USB Drive – You should have an emergency binder (see below), but you could also duplicate the contents of a physical binder into an electronic binder on a USB drive. Thumb drives are becoming very inexpensive and can hold many gigs of data, including pictures, audio and video files of your home contents.
- GPS device – Again, GPS devices can be very handy. Don’t neglect the possibilities and their benefits because it requires an electric charge. If you were in a situation where you needed one and you could use it, you would be glad you did!
14. An Emergency Library: How to guides – instructions – maps.
As mentioned above, an emergency library is very beneficial. If you like books and you have space, you should build up your library. You never know how beneficial it might be.
- Medical Books (This is the first Preparedness book any prepper should buy!)
- How-To Books
- Wilderness Survival/ Bushcraft/ Emergency Survival Books
- Army Manuals
- Maps of Your Area
- Edible wild foods publications/field guides
15. Emergency Binder
An emergency binder is one of the most important preps you can have. In an emergency situation or if you have to leave your home in a hurry, you will have all your important documents in one place.
Think about dealing with an emergency situation, like your house flooding or a major fire. Then think about having to deal with that emergency and at the same time try to replace all your important documents!
An emergency binder should include:
- Birth and Marriage Certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Medical Records
- Copies of Passports and Other Photo ID’s
- Bank Accounts and Other Assets (property, stocks, etc..)
- Important Phone Numbers
- Up-to-Date Photos of Each Family Member
- College Transcripts/Diplomas
- Insurance Information
- Deeds/ Vehicle Titles
- Other Important Documents Specific to Your Situation
16. Cash, Money, Misc…
- Cash in Smaller Bills
- Gold/Silver Coins
- Valuable Jewelry
- Heirloom Seeds
- Fishing, Hunting and Camping Gear
Many people treat their pets like a family member. In an emergency situation, you won’t want to leave your pets behind.
- Have Plenty of Food and Water Stored
- If you have exotic pets try and get heaters that work on battery power for emergencies. the same goes for air pumps for aquariums.
- Extra Leashes and Collars
- Any Meds They Might Need
18. Bug Out Bags
The topic of Bug Out Bags is really an article all on its own. Many Preppers, falsely believe that this is the first item they need to prepare. One thing to remember about a bug out and bug out bags is that the goal is to get you from point A to point B. Your bug out bag (BOB) is not an extended camping trip bag. You don’t have to pack everything and the kitchen sink in your bag. You just need enough to get you from your home or wherever you are bugging out from to your bug out location.
- You need a bag that you can carry, preferably a backpack with chest and waist straps to help take the weight off your shoulders.
- Or, if you plan to bug out by car, you could use a tote. However, if you found that you needed to leave your vehicle for any reason, you should have a backup bag that you can place items in to take with you.
- The contents of your bag can be made from the items that have been discussed in this article. Just remember to only put the items you need to get you to where you are going. You should have supplies and a means to survive there!
19. Items for Automobiles – Trucks – Vans – RV’s
Have the right items in your vehicle can save you from being in an emergency situation. These are generic items that should be in every vehicle that has the room. Special consideration and items should be placed in vehicles during wintertime if you live in an area that experiences blizzards and sudden snowstorms.
- Spare tire
- Jack with a tire iron and supporting tools if you have larger than stock tires
- Tire inflation device – 12v compressor
- JB Weld/super adhesive, gorilla glue, duct tape LONG zip ties.
- Jumper cables (do not buy cheap jumper cables)
- Portable power unit for jump-starting
- Tow cable/rope
- Chains/cables/bungee cords for tightening check your chains every year for rust and damage.
- Device to break a window and cut seat-belts from the inside in an emergency
- Extra gas/funnel
- Siphon hose
- Extra fan belts/bulbs/hoses/additives/sealers/hard to get parts if you have modern care get an extra serpentine belt.
- Window scraper
- Important phone numbers/documents/insurance information
- Check out this Article when Zip Ties Saved My Butt!
As I stated above, please use this Prepper Checklist as a guide an not as a shopping list. This list should serve to help you think about all that goes into your day and what you might need in an emergency situation.
This article and the accompanying FREE Checklist isn’t at all exhaustive. There are so many other items that are not included and if they were, it really would need to be a book. There are plenty of those out there too! However, if you have any ideas that have helped your preparedness, items that you believe should be included, please provide them below in the comments. Someone who reads this might find your ideas very helpful! And that is what the Preparedness Community is all about!