Survival Checklist for Beginners

Preparing for the unexpected can be an overwhelming process, so it’s essential to make sure you have all the prepping basics covered. This prepping checklist has everything you need to get started, from food and water supplies to first aid kits and emergency communication plans, and offers a comprehensive list of items required to become better prepared. 

During my prepping journey, I’ve found what items work the best and what supplies are the most useful to stay prepared no matter what situation arises. This article covers the essential prepping supplies everyone should have, including essential first aid items, alternative power, communications, tools, & other vital preparedness items. 

This guide will give you all the information about where to start prepping. After that, you will need to refine your preparedness plan to include any special considerations or needs unique to your family or environment in your personal preparedness list. While you can get some great ideas and learn a lot about prepping from lists like these, only you can fill in the blanks and formulate a well-rounded preparedness plan. 

In no time at all, you will graduate from the prepping basics, expand your preparedness knowledge, and become a seasons pro. This prepping list may seem a little daunting at first, but remember, every step you take to become better prepared is a step in the right direction. 

Why Preppers Need & Love Their Lists?

Preppers need lists because there is so much to know and remember when preparing for disaster and survival. Without a list to keep our preps straight, the chances of a terrible outcome for ourselves and our loved ones increase. The solution to ensure thorough preparedness is to have (and use) a complete prepping checklist.

Preppers understand the importance of being prepared when an emergency or disaster strikes. Developing a complete, detailed prepping list is crucial for proper preparation. Having this Preppers supplies list and reviewing it regularly will ensure that all essential items are remembered and in place when it comes time to act. 

With a written list, individuals can adjust their plans more quickly as new developments might require. For many serious preppers, such a list is personalized and thorough, ensuring they have all they need in an emergency. Ultimately, no one ever hopes to be in a position where their prepping supplies and prepping knowledge are required, but covering all your bases just in case is smart planning.

What to Avoid When Beginning Prepping

As you’re starting in prepping, it’s important to remember not to go overboard. Remember that survival prepping is about being prepared, not stockpiling everything imaginable or “hoarding.” That’s why it’s important to try and focus on the essentials and select only the items you need for your situation.  

Otherwise, you could end up with a house full of unneeded items or need help finding the necessary item. Furthermore, don’t forget to stockpile enough of each item, so you have plenty for extended power outages or other emergencies for the entire family or household. 

Remember that everything doesn’t have to be done RIGHT NOW! Work out a prepping budget and focus on the areas with the highest priority. In no time will you find yourself more prepared for a disaster or personal doomsday than you thought. 

The most important thing to remember when starting your preparedness journey is to Relax. Preparing for disasters can initially seem overwhelming, but everything will be fine. Take your time and put together a good preparedness foundation. You’ll thank yourself later when something happens. 

What Should Be in Every Prepper Home?

Your home is your sanctuary, castle, and where you will be storing all your prepping supplies. Our home is the ideal location to ride out any disaster that might come our way. 

If you are a beginning prepper, before you go out and stock up on supplies, take stock of what you already have at home. You may be surprised to see how many things can double as potential emergency resources. This also gives you more confidence knowing you’re a little more prepared than you thought.

Nonperishable food items, plastic bottles filled with water, electrical cables or cords for charging your devices if the power goes out, and even old clothes that can double as protection from the elements. Before starting your prepping checklist, take a thorough inventory of what you already own prepping checklist.

Food & Food Storage


Food plays an essential role in our survival. Many life-sustaining processes require energy and nutrition derived from the food we consume. Without these nutrients, our bodies could not repair and build cells and run other vital metabolic functions. 

Food can even offer protection against illnesses by forming a barrier against potential viruses or bacteria that could cause harm if allowed entry into our body’s systems. Therefore, food is not merely enjoyable or necessary; it also factors into our survival in numerous ways, making it an incredibly important part of life.

Food storage is likely to take up a large portion of your prepping checklist, and there are hundreds of articles in the preparedness community based on food storage alone. This is because there are many food storage techniques, and each person’s needs differ. 

While a lot goes into managing your food storage stockpile, like expiration dates, shelflives, storage, and organization, it isn’t as overwhelming as it might seem if you are beginning prepping. 

– Store What you Eat

There is a saying in the prepping community “store what you eat, and eat what you store.” This is especially important initially because there is so much to do and buy. In addition to building your food storage, you may need first aid supplies, alternative energy supplies, water filters, etc. 

– Be Strategic With Your Food Storage

As with everything in preparedness, when you are putting together a food storage list, think about a time frame and diversity, not the amount. A pantry full of Spaghetti O’s will get old after a few days, and it’s not very nutritious. Inventory and rotation are also important because the last thing you want is to be throwing away expired food.

– Types of Food Storage

There are quite a few options when adding food to your prepper list. There are canned foods, shelf stables, long-term food storage, & DIY food storage. Purchasing long-term food storage or making your own is beneficial because it will last up to 25 years and is easy to organize and store. 

If you are beginning prepping, stock the kitchen with all the foods you and your family eat. If you are vigilant about inventory and rotation, pantry foods will make up a large portion of your long-term food storage plans. Prepackaged long-term food storage like we sell at the shtfshop is also great for people starting out to give their food stock a boost, and it’s easy to store for people with limited space.

The SHTFShop By Survivalist Prepper

Get Your Long-Term Food Storage

If you are interested in long-term food storage we sell Legacy Food Storage Products at our SHTF Shop. I can work with you to get the right food for your needs, at the best price possible.

Cooking or Heating

This should go without saying, but make sure you add cooking supplies to your prepping list. Sterno, outdoor grills, and water to cook with are just as important as the food itself. Ask yourself, “how would I prepare this food if the grid was down”? 

Another option is to stockpile foods that don’t require preparation or refrigeration.  Cereals, fruits and nuts, and granola are examples of open-and-eat foods. Another bonus of long-term food storage products like Legacy Foods is that all you need is a way to heat water, and you have a meal.

Water & Water Purification

Water is an essential consideration when it comes to being prepared for a disaster. Water storage, purification, and filtration are all critical components to adequate water supply in an emergency. 

Water can be stored in several different types of containers. If you are starting your water storage, 2ltr soda bottles or Arizona iced tea jugs will work, but avoid thin containers like milk jugs and breakable containers made of glass. 

You should strive to have one gallon of water per person daily on your prepping list. This can become tricky if your storage space is limited, which is why quite a few preppers tend to fall short in this area.  

If you cannot store adequate water for emergency preparedness, water procurement, and cleaning that water becomes necessary. Water filtration should be considered since many different bacteria, contaminants, pathogens, and pollutants can be found in water sources. 

Properly filtering the water can rid it of these impurities and make it potable. Water purification tablets are also an effective and easy way to turn prefiltered contaminated water into safe drinking water.

Water conservation practices & rationing should also be noted, as supplies will quickly become depleted during an extended period of time. Access to potable water from an external source, such as rainwater capture or natural sources like rivers or lakes, is necessary to get what you have to last as long as possible. For these reasons, having a plan for proper water management is essential for any disaster readiness plan.

Energy (Power, Light, and Heat)

Energy is an essential factor in preparedness. Accessing and storing power, light, and heat are all integral elements of being ready for anything. These resources allow us to provide light in dark spaces, cook food, charge electronic devices, and even stay warm in colder climates. 

In these ways, energy is vital in keeping us safe and secure when emergencies arise. For instance, having a well-stocked supply of batteries for radios or flashlights would ensure we stay informed about our surroundings during power outages. Moreover, having a generator could provide much-needed warmth during wintery days and nights and help families from feeling too cold to function correctly. 

Ultimately, having energy sources readily available during crises can help alleviate stress created by the lack of necessary resources when these events occur. Preparedness requires that we pay close attention to all the needs of our households, especially power, light, and heat which are essential components of ensuring success no matter the situation.

First Aid Supplies & Skills

First aid and medical supplies are essential parts of preparedness. A well-stocked first aid kit with the right medical equipment and materials could mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. 

Preppers should ensure that their first aid kits are regularly checked and restocked—essential medicines, medical devices, hygiene products, wound care items, and other materials tend to expire or become damaged over time. 

First aid isn’t just limited to medical supplies; training is often equally as critical so that preppers in distressed situations can quickly decide how best to respond utilizing their medical items. 

Investing in medical resources such as first aid kits and specialized training is essential for any prepper to stay safe and healthy under extreme conditions.

Hygiene & Sanitation

Good hygiene is essential in ensuring we are prepared for anything in life. Practicing good hygiene habits such as regular hand-washing can also help us avoid contamination from poor hygienic practices. Adequate hygiene is crucial for personal health and preventing major outbreaks of contagious illnesses that could affect others in your home or the entire community.

– Removing Waste

When thinking of hygiene & preparedness, toilet paper comes to mind, and it is a must-have item – and plenty of it! Toilet paper might seem like an odd thing to consider in readiness, but maintaining proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of getting ill or spreading diseases. 

Having toilet paper is just one part of the human waste removal process. What will you do with it if no water runs to the toilet? An alternative could be the tried and true five-gallon bucket toilet, or a Campi Potty. 

– Showering 

In a short-term disaster or something that causes the power to go out for a few days, taking a shower is not necessarily essential, but it would become a much-needed moral booster after a few days. A solar shower may be a great item to add to your checklist for emergencies that last longer than a few days. Also, remember the shampoo. 

– Laundry

Much like showering, you can go a while without doing laundry, but eventually, you’ll need to figure something out. At the very least, taking a shower and putting on clean clothes would give you a sense of normalcy in a difficult time. 

When doing laundry in a grid-down or disaster scenario, all you need to do is think about how your grandmother might have cleaned her clothes. A bucket of water, some soap, and a little elbow grease are all you need.  

– Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling are significant considerations for individuals looking to be prepared for the future. Whether a natural disaster or an emergency, efficient means of regulating temperature are essential for survival and comfort. 

Access to heating allows individuals to remain warm during cold climates, while cooling helps during hot climates or on general days in warmer areas. Depending on age and health, this can be especially important in extreme weather conditions. 

Additionally, regulating temperature is vital when conserving resources such as fuel, food, and water—inefficient systems that struggle to heat or cool can result in higher costs with these items and fewer reserves which could be detrimental to your overall preparedness goals.

Keep in mind that smaller areas in your home are easier to heat or cool. You can raise the temperature of a small bedroom much quicker than if you try to heat a larger room. 


In today’s world, being prepared for disasters means focusing on communications in addition to the more obvious supplies. A plan for communication and access to resources, such as access to critical information, will be essential in a life-threatening situation. 

With reliable forms of communication, it is easier to stay informed about conditions in your area and contact emergency services when needed. While a cell phone is a go-to source for information, an emergency radio that will pick up NOAA channels would be instrumental if your phone lines and the internet are down. 

Additionally, having a communication plan with family and friends may be invaluable after a disaster strikes, as it could help you make important decisions regarding shelter or evacuation quickly instead of waiting until emergency resources and information become available. 

Taking a few simple proactive steps now may prepare you better should a disaster arise.

Family Planning

Preparing for an emergency isn’t just about having the necessary supplies but also a plan. Take some time to think through how everyone in your family should respond and where each family member should go in an emergency. 

Take the time to plan out evacuation routes, get home routes, and create an emergency procedures binder with emergency instructions for each family member, including where the flashlights, batteries, food, water, first aid supplies, and important documents are. 

Important Documents

In the event of a major disaster, it is essential to be prepared with the relevant documents to facilitate recovery. Documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, titles and deeds, Social Security cards, insurance policies, passport copies, living wills, and other important records can be lifesavers during a crisis.

Having copies of these documents backed up in waterproof and fireproof containers or spread among trusted family members and friends can ensure that if one’s home is destroyed or you need to bug out, these important papers remain accessible. Locating and backing up crucial documents can make an immense difference in moving on from a disaster more quickly and securely.

Put Together a Bug Out Bag

One of the prepping basics is a bug out bag. It’s important to be prepared for a quick evacuation in the event of an emergency, and having everything packed and ready to go is essential. A bug out bag (also known as a 72-hour kit) is your first line of defense should you be caught in a get-home or bug out situation. 

Think of a bug out bag as a micro-preparedness kit. You will need the same basic survival supplies that you have in your home, but at a much smaller level. A bug out bag is meant to sustain you until you can get to your prepping supplies at a bug out location or your home.

– The Backpack (Bug Out Bag)

You must ensure the backpack you choose has enough room to carry all your essentials, including water, food, and medical supplies. The size and quality of the bug out bag will depend on individual needs, but it should at least be big enough to fit all the necessary items for an evacuation, and light enough to be useful. Try to find a lightweight and water resistant pack to protect your belongings from rain and other elements.

– Food & Water: Enough to last for three days

Food and water are two essential items you need to have in your bug out bag. It’s advisable to bring enough that will last you three days, just in case you can’t find a source of food or water during an evacuation or get home situation. 

Non-perishable foods like grains and nuts and high-energy snacks like granola bars and trail mix are great options. Don’t forget to pack some purification tablets as well, in case you have access to low-quality or contaminated water sources.

Having a water filter and water purification tablets with you is also a good idea. You may not want to carry three days worth of water, and if you run across a water source, you will need to make it safe to drink. 

– Survival Gear & Supplies

The survival gear you might need in a bug out situation depends on a few factors like your location, time of year (weather), and where you plan on going. Having the right supplies for survival will make all the difference in a bug out situation. 

Make sure you pack the essential items, including extra clothes, a sleeping bag, flashlight and headlamps, portable stoves and cooking supplies, a fixed-blade knife, fire-starting supplies, and a compass. Including these items in your bug out bag will ensure that you are prepared as possible for anything that comes your way.

– Way(s) to Start a Fire 

Matches & Firestarter Materials are great, but nothing beats a Bic lighter. Having matches and other fire starter materials in your bug out bag is vital to start fires, for warmth, and to cook food. 

Make sure you pack waterproof matches, a ferro rod, and a lighter in your bag, and learn how to use them. You can even make a small fire starter kit. This can be lifesaving during an emergency as it can provide critical warmth and help prepare any food you may have.

Have a Car Kit & Supplies

We are in our vehicles daily, and we don’t get to decide when disaster strikes. The odds are good that we could be away from home when something happens, and it’s important to have the right supplies with you if the need arises.

Preparing an emergency car kit ahead of time can be a lifesaver should you ever find yourself on the side of the road with no help in sight. From essential tools and supplies to safety gear, having the right items in your car can make a massive difference if you are in any vehicular distress.

– Put Together a Go Bag

A “go bag” or EDC kit with essential survival supplies in your car is also necessary. This should include a few essential items such as water, snacks, a first-aid kit, a flashlight, blankets, extra clothing and shoes, maps, fire-starting supplies, a compass, and other navigation tools. A go bag can be an extension of your EDC (everyday carry) but will be smaller and lighter than a fully stocked  Bug Out Bag.

Everyday Carry items that you put in your go bag can include…

  • Flashlight 
  • Lighter/Matches 
  • Tissues/Handkerchiefs 
  • Bandana/Hat 
  • Umbrella/Raincoat  
  • Snacks/) that go with you everywhere
  • Pocket Knife
  • Phone 
  • Headphones 
  • Pen/Pencil 
  • Notebook 
  • Multi-tool

– Extra Clothing and Blankets

You never know when you’ll face bad weather or a survival situation while driving or traveling to a new place. Ensure your emergency car kit has extra blankets, gloves, hats, and socks in case the temperature drops. Even in warmer climates, it can get quite cold at night. Along with the clothes, make sure and have a blanket or two in the trunk of your car, just in case. 

– Automobile Emergency Kit Basics

Jumper cables are essential for any emergency car kit, in case you experience a dead battery. An electric tire pump can quickly recharge flat tires when you don’t have access to a gas station compressor. 

Warning devices, such as reflective triangles or road flares, can also come in handy if your vehicle is stuck on the side of the road and you need to alert other drivers of your presence. Ensure that these warning devices are always placed safely away from combustible materials.

There are several car kits for emergencies you can get on amazon that include safety items like Jumper Cables, Electric Tire pumps, and Warning Devices, Such as Reflective Triangles or Road Flares. 

– First Aid Supplies

Include a basic first aid kit in your emergency car kit. Having items like bandages, gauze, antiseptics, and other first-aid supplies can help you address any minor injuries or ailments you may experience or encounter while on the road. 

It’s also important to know how to use these supplies in the case of an emergency correctly, so consider taking a certified first-aid course before putting together your kit.

– Basic Car Repair Tools

Your emergency car kit should include a socket set with various wrench sizes and types of screwdrivers. Doing minor repairs can be much easier if you have the right tools. 

An adjustable wrench and various Allen wrenches are essential for efficiently handling minor adjustments to the engine or other parts of your vehicle.

Best Preppers List Wrap Up

the 6 areas of preparedness

To be Realistic with Your Prepping

As you can see, there is quite a bit that goes into prepping for beginners, but once you start your list, you’ll see it’s not so bad. The important part is to take action and start putting together your prepping list. It’s also important to be realistic about your abilities and build on your strengths and weaknesses. Take an honest look at your situation and your family’s needs to create the best preparedness plan possible.

Have a Well-Rounded Plan

Make sure as you put your list together it includes all six of the areas of preparedness. You can have six months’ worth of food, but if you don’t have water, you are unprepared. As I said earlier in this article, focus on preparing for an amount of time, not each individual area. Keep your prepping budget in mind as well, and don’t go into debt trying to become better prepared.

Build on Your Preparedness Foundation 

When you get your prepping checklist filled out, it’s time to Learn, Implement & Grow. While you are checking off the boxes, you can research more about prepping, learn new skills that will be a valuable survival resource, and build confidence knowing you have done everything you can in case a disaster strikes.

If you are looking to take prepping to the next step, I put together The Bug Out Location Prepping Education website that goes into much more detail about everything on this checklist. In the member’s area, you’ll have access to a number of prepping courses, weekly videos, and more prepping resources.

Until next time, take care and prepare!


Survival and being prepared should not only be a passion, it should be a lifestyle. The definition of a prepper is "An individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of, or prior to, any change in normal circumstances, without substantial resources from outside sources" Like the Government, police etc. I don't believe that the end of the world will be the "end of the world" I believe it will be the end of the world as we know it now. You can also find me on Google Plus and Twitter

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