The Prepper’s Cheat Sheet: 24 Lifesaving Tips You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

Prepping isn’t just about having the right gear; it’s about being mentally and physically ready for any challenge that comes your way. Whether you’re new to prepping or you’ve been building bunkers for decades, there’s always something new to learn.

Here are 24 crucial tips that seasoned preppers wish they had known from the start. These insights can save you time, money, and maybe even your life.

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1. Water is More Important Than Food

While food is essential, water is your top survival priority. An adult can survive up to three weeks without food but only three to five days without water. Always have multiple ways to purify and access water, such as boiling, chemical purifiers, and a manual pump filter. Stockpiling bottled water and knowing local water sources can also be lifesaving.

2. Don’t Overlook Dental Hygiene

It might sound trivial, but dental issues can become dangerous if not treated. In a survival situation, access to a dentist might be limited or nonexistent. Stock up on toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, and even temporary filling kits. Preventing dental problems is much easier than treating them when professional care isn’t available.

3. Master Basic First Aid

Understanding how to treat minor injuries can prevent them from becoming major. Every prepper should know how to clean and dress wounds, manage sprains and breaks, and perform CPR. Regularly update your first aid kit with supplies like bandages, antiseptics, and necessary medications. Consider taking a certified first aid course to enhance your skills.

4. Learn to Grow Your Own Food

Knowing how to grow your own food ensures a supply in emergencies and helps you understand what’s involved in sustaining your nutrition. Start a vegetable garden to learn the basics of food production. This skill takes time to develop, so the sooner you start, the better prepared you’ll be.

5. Keep Your Gear Simple and Familiar

The latest gear might be tempting, but it’s often better to stick with simple, reliable tools you know how to use. A basic but sturdy backpack, a well-made knife, and a dependable fire starter can be more valuable than a load of high-tech gear you’re unfamiliar with.

6. Regularly Rotate Your Supplies

Stockpiled food and medicine have expiration dates. Regularly check and rotate these supplies to keep them fresh. This practice helps prevent the frustration of discovering expired or spoiled supplies when you need them most.

7. Physical Fitness is Crucial

Your physical condition directly impacts your ability to handle stressful situations. Regular exercise and strength training improve your chances of survival by boosting endurance and resilience. Make physical fitness a key component of your preparation.

8. Keep Critical Documents Accessible

In an emergency, having quick access to important documents such as passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies is crucial. Keep these documents in a waterproof, fireproof safe, and consider having backup copies stored securely off-site or digitally.

9. Practice Situational Awareness

Being aware of your surroundings and potential threats can prevent dangerous situations. Practice observing details in your environment and predicting possible changes. This awareness can give you a critical head start in a crisis.

10. Understand Basic Repairs

Knowing how to perform basic repairs on clothing, gear, and tools can extend their life and usefulness. Skills like sewing, patching, and basic mechanical repairs can save you money and trouble in the long run.

11. Establish a Communication Plan

In a disaster, staying connected with your family or group is essential. Have a plan for how you will communicate if conventional methods are unavailable. Consider alternatives like walkie-talkies, satellite phones, or even messaging apps that don’t rely on cellular networks.

12. Store Fuel Safely

Having a backup supply of fuel for heating, cooking, or power is a smart move, but it must be stored safely. Use appropriate containers, keep them away from living areas, and rotate your stock to maintain its usability.

13. Learn from Other Preppers

Connect with a community of like-minded individuals. Other preppers can offer invaluable advice and support. Attend meetings, join forums, and participate in online communities to share experiences and tips.

14. Prepare for Mental Strain

The psychological impact of survival situations is often underestimated. Develop strategies to maintain mental health, such as maintaining routines, practicing relaxation techniques, and keeping morale-boosting activities on hand.

15. Have Cash on Hand

In many emergency scenarios, ATMs and credit card systems may be down. Keeping a reasonable amount of cash in small bills can be crucial for purchasing necessities during these times.

16. Invest in Quality Footwear

In many emergency or survival situations, you may need to walk long distances or traverse rough terrain. Invest in durable, comfortable footwear designed for hiking or rough terrain. Proper shoes can prevent injuries and increase your mobility and endurance in challenging conditions.

17. Learn How to Filter and Store Water

Since water is crucial for survival, knowing more than one method to purify and store it can be a lifesaver. Learn techniques like solar water disinfection (SODIS), sand filtration, and how to properly store large quantities of water to prevent contamination.

18. Plan for Pet Care

If you have pets, don’t forget to prepare for their needs as well. Include a supply of pet food, water, medications, and other pet essentials in your emergency plan. Also, keep a pet carrier handy in case you need to evacuate.

19. Cultivate Local Knowledge

Understand the risks specific to your geographic area, whether it’s hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or wildfires. Knowing the local flora and fauna can also help you identify additional food sources and natural remedies or be aware of potential dangers.

20. Secure Your Home

Learn how to fortify your home against potential threats. This can include installing better locks, reinforcing entry points, setting up security cameras, and having blackout curtains to keep light in and prying eyes out.

21. Backup Your Data

Important documents aren’t just paper-based. Make digital backups of crucial documents and photos, and store them on secure, waterproof, and fireproof USB drives or portable hard drives. Consider cloud storage options for remote backup.

22. Maintain a Survival Library

Collect and maintain a library of books and manuals that cover a variety of survival skills, from first aid and foraging to mechanical repairs and building shelters. Books can be a valuable resource when electronic devices are not operational.

23. Learn Stress Management Techniques

Survival situations are inherently stressful. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even maintaining a daily journal can help manage stress levels, keeping you more alert and effective in making decisions.

24. Create a Bug-Out Bag for Each Family Member

Every family member should have a personalized bug-out bag that includes essentials such as clothes, personal hygiene items, basic survival tools, personal documents, and personal medical needs.

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