Most people in the preparedness community have pretty strong opinions on what the “most important” preps are. For some people its food storage, for others its security and stockpiling weapons or ammo. For others, primitive skill building or building the perfect bugout bag are at the top of the list.
People that are new to prepping often ask what area is the most important part of prepping and where to start first.
Today we’re NOT going to answer this question for you.
In fact, we’re going to show you exactly why NO ONE can answer this question for you. What we are going to discuss today is how you can rationally determine how to prioritize your preps for your specific needs, goals and situations. Once you understand how to prioritize your preps the right way, putting together a plan that best fits you is actually very easy to do.
Using the Threat Matrix to Identify Priorities
When most people start out prepping, they typically display signs of what I affectionately call the “Headless Chicken Syndrome”.
Most people usually have some sort of “AH-HA!” moment that puts them down the path of preparedness. Some experienced preppers call this “waking up”. However you want to label it, something usually happens that flips a switch in the new preppers mind. Suddenly they’re worried about everything. Global Pandemics, Government Oppression, EMPs, Civil Unrest – all the typical Hollywood disasters that would spell the end of life as we know it become real, immediate concerns and they scramble to stock up on food, weapons and survival gear because, well that’s what preppers do right?
These new preppers usually don’t have any sort of organized plan and are usually flying by assumption, bad information or are just going through the motions without putting a lot of real thought into why they’re doing what they’re doing. All they really know is that they have to do something.
The first step in prepping shouldn’t be buying food, weapons or survival gear. Despite what a lot of people might say, the first step to prepping actually shouldn’t involve spending any money whatsoever. The first step of a new prepper should be to prioritizing and rational planning. To do this, I have always suggested people use a concept called the Threat Matrix.
The Threat Matrix is nothing more than a list of scenarios that you are likely to encounter based on your individual location, lifestyle and other personalized factors. This list should start out with the most “mundane” of disasters and slowly move towards the more unrealistic, although possible scenarios. This list isn’t the same for everyone, in fact it shouldn’t be. It should be personalized for you and your family specifically to help you prioritize your prepping efforts.
For most people, the first potential disaster scenario that needs to be addressed is natural disasters. Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, winter storms, heat waves; depending where you are, any or all of these situations could apply to you and should be a priority in your preps as they are the most likely disaster scenario you’ll run into. Preparing to bug out or survive off the grid for a week or two is a very good starting point into all areas of prepping.
The next priority I suggest for your threat matrix deals with financial preparedness. If you work for someone else, heck even if you work for yourself, you are always 1 step away from losing your income. This may not necessarily be a life or death disaster, but for today’s modern society, it’s pretty darn close.
Since it’s a lot more likely that you’ll lose your job long before the next lethal global pandemic outbreak, I typically suggest that people look into alternative means of making money and putting together a strong savings, food storage and debt-reduction plan in order to help mitigate the risk of financial disaster. I personally consider this a much higher priority than any of the “Hollywood” disasters.
The next priority I suggest for your Threat Matrix is to address security. One of the most common disaster scenarios you’re likely to encounter is a home invasion, burglary, mugging, identity theft or some other form of direct attack against you, your family or your home. This is the area where you would focus on self-defense, concealed carry, firearms training, OPSEC and home security.
After these topics your list will probably start dealing with the more hypothetical disaster scenarios rather than these practical ones. There’s nothing wrong with taking steps to mitigate risks of any kind, regardless if those risks are far-fetched or not. Prepping itself should make you feel more secure. If you’re truly concerned about a global pandemic, then by all means start prepping for it or any other disaster scenario that keeps you from feeling as safe as you should.
The Threat Matrix simply helps you identify what disasters are most likely for you. It makes absolutely no sense to obsess about things like global pandemics if you’re not ready to take on a week-long power-outage during a snow storm. It doesn’t make sense to stockpile half a million rounds of ammo when you’re barely making ends meet every month because you’re so far into debt.
Using the Threat Matrix can help you identify what should be most important to you. It may not identify what you WANT to focus on, but it will make you see what you SHOULD focus on. Once you’ve identified and prioritized these risks, then it’s very easy to start prioritizing your preps rationally.
In the example above, natural disasters are the most likely disaster scenario. Therefore the first preps that this new prepper should be focusing on are a couple weeks of food and water, ways to prepare food off the grid, a bugout plan and bugout bag, a documentation package, alternative heating or cooling methods and alternative power.
As you can see, even just mitigating the risk of a natural disaster is a pretty tall order. There’s a lot of stuff to put on that to-do list simply to survive a couple of weeks off the grid. However, once you are finished addressing your first set of threats (natural disasters) you’ll start realizing something that’s pretty neat called Commonality of Disasters.
Commonality of Disasters means that there are basic and common concerns that you’ll likely face with most disasters. These are the survival basics; Food, Water, Shelter, Security, Energy and Sanitation. Essentially if you’re prepared to hunker down for inclement weather and live off the grid for a week or more, then you’re going to be more prepared to deal with other issues like a loss of income or even some of the more far-fetched disasters like a pandemic quarantine.
Commonality of Disasters is one of the reasons why I personally don’t put a lot of time or effort prepping for these large-scale, SHTF disaster scenarios. If you’re prepared to go off-grid for a few weeks (or more) have a good stockpile of food and water and have addressed security, well then you’re well on your way to being prepared for these bigger-scale disasters without even really having to think about it.
Prioritizing your preps can be difficult if you don’t have a solid plan. There are far too many preppers out there spending money they don’t have on gear and supplies they don’t need for disasters that likely aren’t coming. They ignore the most basic modern preparedness principles and instead focus on these Hollywood, “what-if” SHTF scenarios while ignoring obvious risks like losing an income, natural disasters and basic, everyday security measures.
In order to be an effective prepper, a prepper that can ACTUALLY survive and thrive when systems of support go down, you have to focus on reality. You must have a rational plan that is going to help you achieve your preparedness goals. You have to follow through on those plans and you have to focus on not letting the fear of the unknown TEOTWAWKI disaster sidetrack your efforts.
Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should be prioritizing your preps. They aren’t you and they won’t be the ones that have to live with the consequences of those decisions should disaster strike.
Thank you for reading today.
Until next time, stay safe out there.