Like many have mentioned, my awakening and beginning to try to take care of my family was fraught with fits and starts. With no real direction I was taking in ALL the advice I could get, including a bunch of sideways left-field crap that had less to do with prepping and more to do with "buy my crap". Step one, as mentioned in another thread, is to have a plan. As ridiculous as that sounds, it's where I have to start now. Without a plan (steps to follow in case of "the incident") it very quickly devolves into: "OMG, flashlights, we need to have flashlights, there needs to be at least one in every room! Lowes and Home Depot both have the super ultra mega pack of micro 3xAAA flashlights on sale, 96 flashlights for $18! I'm buying two! Heck, the batteries are more than that! Speaking of batteries, we need to go to Costco and get 30 lbs of batteries. No, we need SO MANY that we aren't counting them anymore, we are WEIGHING them! While we're there, buy up all the water in bottles that they have...yes, I know that's going to be like 9 pallets but get a move on!" and on and on and on. Yeah, flashlights are important. So are water and batteries and guns and ammo and food (canned, dehydrated, freeze-dried, powdered, vacuum packed and sealed in buckets and bags) and seeds and bleach (or Cal Hypo) and...STOP! Why? Why are you prepping? I don't mean "I have to protect and provide for my family", I mean the latter half of that sentence. "I have to protect and provide for my family in case of <THE THING YOU ARE PLANNING FOR>." Step one is the plan. The plan for the thing, the incident, the event...or plural. Things I'm planning to take care of myself through include, and I have to keep reminding myself of this since bagged pinto beans, bullets and band-aids is only going to get me so far (and these are mostly in order but I reserve the right to change things up): Run of the mill inconvenience including: Hurricane (we're pretty far inland but it happened during Hugo) Power Outage Water Main break Natural Gas shortage/outage Gasoline shortage/outage Short term area issues (usually longer lasting than above) Flooding and the associated damage Fire and the associated damage (infrastructure) Long term power/water/electrical outage (3-10 days) Long term area or regional issues Large scale infrastructure failure (not EOTW) Diesel shortage/driver work stoppage Civil Unrest Personal SHTF Job loss Major illness Death of a nuclear family member There are things I am not planning for because I really don't have the ability to plan to the depth necessary nor the means to "get out of harms way". I don't have a BOL but if I had to head to family in another state I "should" be able to do so and not arrive empty handed. Long term martial law Yellowstone EMP I just don't have the super long term ability to be fully self-sufficient in some of those cases and depending on how bad it is, I don't know that I want to have the rebuild of society resting on my shoulders. I like camping...I don't like it that much. So, knowing what I'm trying to prepare for, what am I doing and what do I end up recommitting myself to? Food storage. I'm not in the Alaskan outback and I'm not in a position where I absolutely must have 5-9 months of food on hand by September 1 or I'm gonna DIE, but I do have anywhere from 2-3 months of food set back. Grains (primal goes out the window if I'm relying solely on food storage) Canned and bagged meat Canned vegetables/fruits Spices Dried gravy/sauce/broth Water...you can literally never have enough of it. Bottled - flats of individual bottles Gallons Bulk (15 gal) barrels Filters (plural) No, I actually don't have any bleach or CH Fire/heat Matches (stick, books, lighters, long "candle" lighters) Flint and steel, yes actual flint and steel (@Bear is the MAN!) - plural Ferro rods (plural) Batteries and steel wool Friction (last freakin' resort!) Too many kinds of tinder to mention Electricity Batteries (AA/AAA/C/D) Deel Cycle Batteries (retired from a UPS after 3 years of being topped off and never used) Chargers to go from one to the other to the next No solar...I suck No, I actually don't have a generator...I suck even worse Cooking Propane - also can be used for heat (Big Buddy is AWESOME!) - 1lb and 15lb plus a refill adapter for the 1lb. Propane stove (dual burner, used multiple times a year to keep in good shape) Coleman "Dual Fuel" single burner (gasoline and kerosene) Charcoal Working on a fire pit Lighting Flashlights...yeah, lots of flashlights and headlamps and billy-clubs (3-4 D-cell Mag Lights) Propane lanterns Solar lantern (LuminAID...pretty cool actually) No, I have no hurricane lanterns or oil lanterns...more suck Garden It changes throughout the year but we're getting the hang of what can grow when and how to increase yield. All of that is for bugging in. We have minimal bug out bags for the family but we don't go through them as often as we should/need to. Kids have ALL grown out of the spares they have in the bags. Those have 72 hours of food, water, changes of clothes, some candy for comfort and the older ones have knives and fire starting implements. Not mentioned above is security/protection. I have it but I'm not going into detail. I also have to be very careful when thinking about it because I can spiral really quickly into "Guns, guns, Guns, GUNS! Need more guns, more ammo, something in every car...plus a backup in every car...plus a backup for the backup, hidden under the spare tire in the car! Reloading...I have NO TIME but I have GOT to get into reloading. I need three metric tons of smokeless powder and the commensurate amount of brass, bullets, primers and raw lead to cast my own! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE IF I CAN'T DEFEND THE HOMESTEAD BY TOMORROW!" You think I'm kidding? I'm not. So, I have...enough. Sufficient to keep on keeping on in my mind and we'll leave it at that. No, I probably don't have a fraction of what some other folks here have but it's sufficient. What do I hope to be able to plan for and what am I at least thinking about? EMP, CRAY CRAY civil unrest and or "The End Of America" as it were. I'm aware, I'm thinking of how I can leverage what I have, where and what I would do, but I'm not yet able to prepare so I'm not stressing about it. I'm also not worried about Yellowstone. If it goes or the New Madrid decides to split the majority of North America in half...not a thing I can do to prepare for that so it has simply GOT to be water off a ducks back.