Novice preppers always tend to be guilty of the same thing when they first start getting into preparedness. They become obsessed with the idea of “we need to” or “I need to get”. Most go out and buy up a bunch of food and gear, toss it in a closet and keep their newly-constructed bugout bags right next to the door as if the TEOTWAWKI apocalypse was right around the corner.
The best way for seasoned preppers to spread the message of preparedness is by helping out new preppers as much as we can. The very, VERY first thing we advise any prepper to do is to set up a Threat Assessment Matrix (TAM). This is a very basic outline that will prioritize the type of disasters you may encounter based on their likelihood specifically for you and your family.
Step one – Separate Reality from Hollywood
The 1st step in putting together your TAM is to isolate your level of threats and disaster risks. To do this, we don’t immediately start throwing things out there like EMP’s and Global Pandemics, we start small and slowly progress to more unlikely incidents. Although everyone’s TAM will look different for everyone, your 1st step should look something like this.
Job Loss / Decline in Income
Death in the Family
Accidents – at home or in your day to day routine
Digital and Financial Security
Natural Disasters – Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Flooding, Blizzards, Fire and Biological/Chemical threats
If you notice, roaming hordes of zombies is nowhere on this list. The reason why it is important to focus on localized disasters first is simple, they’re the most likely to happen. Although the typical, Hollywood-type disasters are real possibilities, the likelihood that a global pandemic wipes out half the population is much less than you losing your job or getting into a car accident. This is why we prep for the most likely disasters first, and then expand from there.
Many of these issues can be prepared for in very similar ways. For example, to prepare for a job loss, decline in income or an unexpected expense we suggest setting up a dedicated Emergency Fund for your family. Ideally this fund would contain 3-6 months’ worth of your household’s expenses. To start out, many financial experts agree that a minimum of $1,000.00 in savings can go a LONG way to mitigating financial disasters in the home.
A death in the family is one of the worst disasters you will go through, and unfortunately, it is a disaster that you WILL have to face. Like the old saying goes; “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”. Even though you will never be “prepared” to lose a family member, you can do things to help mitigate the practical side of this disaster.
Having adequate life insurance, living as much of a debt-free lifestyle as possible and having a will can allow you or your loved ones the time to grieve without worrying about the financial aspect of this kind of disaster.
We could have written an entire book on home defense. There are many things people can do to beef up home security including purchasing and training with a firearm, strengthening exterior doors, adding shatter-resistant film to windows, securing outside garage doors…the list goes on and on. For beginning preppers, we advise really looking at your home defensive capabilities very closely.
Try to find where the weaknesses in your home are. Think like a criminal; “If I had to break into my house, how would I do it?” This will point you in the right direction of what areas to shore up. Lastly, it is important to devise and practice a security plan with your family that can be implemented at a moment’s notice.
Natural Disasters are what we call the “Gateway Drug” to preparedness. Although many people out there can argue about the practicality of prepping, they can’t dispute that Mother Nature is a cruel mistress. You can’t really deny that things like Tornadoes, Blizzards and Hurricanes exist and can be extremely dangerous and destructive. It is important to outline what natural disasters are likely to occur in your area, and devise a preparedness plan to meet these threats.
Step Two – Expand your TAM
Once you have completed your localized TAM risks and devised a plan for them, it’s time to expand you TAM into disasters that are less likely, but still very real possibilities. Local or global pandemics, civil unrest, peak oil/water/energy, nuclear disasters; all of these events, while much less unlikely to occur, are still threats to be taken seriously and worth preparing for.
The great thing about the TAM system is that, after preparing for localized disasters, you’ve covered the majority of preparation needs for these “Hollywood” types of disasters. Stocking up on 6 months of food is an excellent way to mitigate expenses during a job loss; it’s also a great way to prepare for something like a quarantine situation if a pandemic were to strike.
Having an emergency fund (with a portion being in cash) is a great way to prepare for several localized disasters, and if the S were really to hit the F, having cash on hand (as well as precious metals) will be a lifesaver once the grid is down and your debit and credit cards become useless.
Step Three – Tailor your gear and supplies
Now that we’ve identified all the local and expanded threats that we are likely to face in a disaster scenario, we can now begin gather materials, gear and supplies to meet those threats. For localized disasters, a Get Home Bag (GHB), Bug Out Bag (BOB) and your Everyday Carry (EDC) can help you “survive” many day-to-day disasters, as well as give you a huge leg up in a large-scale SHTF disaster. Other preparations like storing food, medical supplies, daily living supplies and defensive tools will also be vital parts of many of your other disaster plans as well.
Deigning your own, personalized Threat Assessment Matrix is vital for practical prepping. Without it, you will fall into the same trap that most novice preppers do buy buying a ton of stuff that you don’t need, and needlessly worrying about things that are completely outside of your control. Once you’ve identified your threats, you’ll soon realize that most of the preps you’ll need to survive “THE Event” will be the same things you’ll need for surviving a much more localized or personal disaster as well.