Over the years I have seen many people in the prepper community treat prepping as a hobby rather than the lifestyle that true continued readiness requires. Disasters rarely provide advanced notice and even when they do, it’s often not enough time to tie up loose ends in your preps. This is why those who are truly prepared must develop everyday habits that push their prepping from a hobby to a lifestyle, ensuring that baselines measures are always in place.
With that said, the development of positive habits can be just as hard as breaking bad ones. Many experts suggest that developing a habit takes around 21 days. This of course depends on the difficulty of the task at hand… The following are five tasks that I assert are essential habits of true preppers, those who wish to be truly ready when disaster strikes:
- Always Keeping Your Devices Charged – This might be the easiest habit to develop and yet one of the most important. Communications are critical during disasters, this almost goes without saying, but imagine the frustration of not being able to send a critical few text messages to loved ones in the critical hours after a disaster because your battery is dead. I suggest starting by ensuring you have enough cell phone chargers placed where you spend the most time. Consider plugging in your phone at your desk during the workday, in your car on the drive home, on your coffee table while you watch television in the evening, and on your nightstand while you sleep. Also consider investing in a portable power pack to ensure you can always charge up while you are away from an AC outlet.Once you have successfully developed the habit of keeping your cell phone charged, it’s now time to move on to other items that might be useful after a disaster. Think of your portable radios, flashlights, cordless drills, two-way radios, etc. Keeping these charged must become habit or it simply won’t happen and therefore, they simply will not be available to you when you need them most.
- Always Having a Get Home Bag & Personal Effects Nearby – This easy to develop habit was born for me from years of experience working in disaster relief. I have seen countless families standing outside their homes in the middle of the night without their cell phone, wallet, car keys, shoes or even the most basic clothing. I recommend getting in the habit of always sleeping with the following items on your nightstand or on the floor by your bedside:
– Cell Phone (On the Charger of Course, see Habit 1)
– Car & House Keys
– The Days Clothing
In addition, I suggest getting in the habit of regularly carrying an Everyday Carry Bag (EDC), also known as a Get Home Bag or Bugout Bag, when you leave home. A small, simple bag like this will ensure you have basic survival and daily living essentials. To make it a habit, grab this bag and take it with you every time you leave the house and take it into work with you. In no time, grabbing your EDC bag will be as routine as grabbing your wallet or purse when you leave home. Click here to read my post on essential items for Get Home Bags.
- Always Keeping Your Gas Tank Over Half-Full – This habit takes a bit more discipline to develop because filling your tank takes a bit of precious time and is always necessary at the most inconvenient time. However, liquid fuels are truly the mother of all dominos following a major disaster, so having a full or almost full, tank of gas will serve you well no matter the scenario. To develop this habit you simply must tell yourself that the half tank mark is empty and avoid the temptation to let it dip below “just for the day” at all costs.
- Always Practicing First-In First-Out Methodology with Your Consumables – The First-In First-Out method, also known as FIFO, is the simplest and most economical way to stockpile consumables, such as food, water, medications, hygiene products, etc. The FIFO method dictates that you determine which items you consume on a regular basis and build up a stockpile of that item, using the oldest items in the stockpile first. However, making it work takes discipline, so that you never use up your stockpile before replenishing it. I suggest that for each item in your FIFO rotation you determine the “buffer size.” The buffer size for any item is the number of those items you use during the shelf life period for that item. For example, if a can of chicken noodle soup that you consume on a regular basis has as shelf life of 2 years and you use one can every week, then you can build a buffer of 104 cans (1 can per week X 52 weeks a year X 2 years). When you use those two cans each week, buy two cans when you go grocery shopping to replenish them, but always use the oldest cans each week first. To kick off this habit, I suggest you pick 4 items each week for 3 weeks (21 days), purchase a buffer, and practice maintaining that buffer each week on an ongoing basis. Consider your FIFO buffer a sort of savings account and never dip into it until that day comes when the proverbial shit hits the fan (SHTF).
- Always Eating Healthy & Staying Fit – This is perhaps the most difficult prepper habit of all, but being healthy is key to survival after a disaster. I recommend getting in the habit of working out a few times a week and setting fitness goals. Focus on the ability to bug out on foot by setting running or walking distance goals as well as ensuring you have the arm and leg strength to get yourself out of life threatening situations. In addition to working out, ensuring that you are in the habit of eating healthy, nutritious foods will put you at a significant advantage if you are ever faced with the stresses of a survival situation.
The development of these five prepper habits will help you ensure that no matter when disaster strikes, you’ll have a few basic survival advantages. Keeping your cell phone charged at all times will ensure you can communicate. Keeping your wallet, keys, and other items with you while you sleep and in an Every Day Carry (EDC) Bag while you’re away will ensure you’ll never be completely stranded without the essentials. Keeping your gas tank topped off at all times will ensure you can bug out. Keeping your stockpile optimized by always using the FIFO technique will ensure you can always bug in. Finally, getting in the habit of working out and eating right will give you the greatest advantage in survival.