Being a survival prepper requires planning, sacrifice, and hard work. The basic concept around being a survival prepper is avoiding risks, and accumulate skills and supplies for future use. What was considered normal and typical just 100 years ago now seems strange to average people. During World War 2, nearly every family had a victory garden and homemakers did home canning of food. 60 years later, most women don’t have skills in cooking and sewing. While I’m a strong advocate for equal rights, someone in the family needs to know how to cook and sew and keep the home. And most men don’t know how to hunt, fish, or chop firewood. Too many metrosexual, urban men have never handled a firearm.
This set of survival prepper ten commandments is something I have had under consideration for nearly a year. I’ve been reading and listening to other blogs and YouTube channels. I’ve been taking notes and reflect on the community of other survival preppers. So other survival prepper bloggers might see shades of their concepts. I’m trying to make this as universal as possible to the wide variety and styles of being a survival prepper.
These prepper ten commandments are provided in context and complimentary to the original Ten Commandments. I don’t need to repeat “Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness” (i.e. lying) and “Thou Shall Not Kill”, since these are already covered by the original Ten Commandments.
The Survival Prepper Ten Commandments
1. Thou Shall Live
This might appear to be obvious at first. But I would ask you to think in terms of risk management. The first duty and goal of being a survival prepper is to live. Live a long and prosperous life. Live a heathy lifestyle. To live long with all your family’s basic needs being met is the duty of every survival prepper. Any activity or event that runs counter to commandment number 1 should be avoided. Planning, activities, and events should all be measured against the risk of not living. There are times when a person can and should put their life at risk, but only for a good cause. Jump after a drowning person — likely a valid cause. Parasailing in a 3rd world country with spotty equipment — likely the risk-to-reward ratio is poor.
Too many people do not provide sufficient care for their most valuable resource — their body and health. Smoking, excessive alcohol, obesity, drug abuse, and other risky behavior shorten your life space. Smoking will take on average 5 years off a person’s life. Obesity will reduce lifespan by an average of 7 years. Most lung cancers are caused by smoking. Most cases of type-2 diabetes can be treated with weight loss. Your body is your temple, and should be treated with reverence. You owe it to your family, to society, and to your god (whatever that might mean to you) to keep yourself in good health. Exercise has been proven to improve mental alertness, reduce depression, and extend lifespan.
2. Thou Shall Be Free
Survival is predicated upon freedom. The greatest killers of all times are governments and wars. Governments, especially fascist and communist governments, have killed between 150 million and 320 million people during the 20th century (1900 to 1999). You can be perfectly secure under a dictatorial government, but without any freedom and liberty. It is the duty of all true survival preppers to support liberty, and thwart any attempts to reduce liberty. You have a duty to your children, grandchildren, and yet unborn great-grandchildren to defend and protect liberty. Once lost, liberty is only regained painfully. The loss of liberty for one is the loss of liberty for all. The loss of liberty sets whole societies on the path towards civil breakdown, violence, revolution, and wide-spread war. Either you fight a little bit everyday to secure liberty, or you’ll be fighting in the future to reclaim liberty with your last ounce of reserves.
3. Thou Shall Be Self-Reliant
When you depend upon other people and other systems, you introduce risks upon yourself. To have long-term survival capabilities, you should strive to become as self-reliant as much as possible. The first thing to prepare is access to fresh, clean water. Without clean drinking water, you immediately put your self at risk for water-borne diseases. After the initial impact of a disaster event, the most likely cause of illness and death are water-borne diseases. You need continual, reliable access to fresh water. You’ll need a means to purify water. Having gravity-feed ceramic water filters, such as the Big Berkey, can convert any fresh (non-salt) water source into clean drinking water. The next component of self-reliance is shelter. You need reliable and safe shelter that matches the climate needs of your location. In colder climates, you need a way to heat your home, without electricity and without purchased fuels. This likely means that you should have a fireplace and/or wood-burning stoves to heat your home. You’ll need a steady access to firewood, and have the means to drop, split, and store firewood. The next task of self-reliance is food. You MUST become a producer of food. If you can heat your own home and feed your own family from your own land, then you are more likely to have long-term survival.
4. Thou Shall Be Fruitful
As a survival prepper, you need to produce. You’ll need to produce some or all of your food. There are so many ways to produce food, even on a tiny plot of land. The easiest is seed sprouting. Sprouted seeds are very nutritious, with lots of vitamins and fiber. Dwarf fruit trees should be considered. Chickens and rabbits can be raised in a small space for protein production. The smallest bit of land in any climate can grow some vegetables. Start simple with seed sprouting, bucket gardens, and small raised bed gardens. It takes years to gain gardening skills. Every plot of land has its own characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses. It takes years to find the right mix of seeds that be suit your climate and your soil. Potatoes or sweet potatoes can be grown on a small plot of land to provide a lot of calories. Indoor hydroponics can be effective in growing food indoors, provided you have a reliable electrical power and water supply. You should also be fruitful to produce income. Along with producing your own food, having one or more home-based businesses help create a level of independence. Consider converting a hobby into a business. If your day job permits you to moonlight or work part-time, build up a roster of customers who will work directly with you during off-hours.
5. Thou Shall Seek Simplicity
Large, complex systems introduce risks beyond their value. Too big to fail resulting in catastrophic failures in the long-run. By simplifying your life and your systems, you lessen the likelihood of failure. The average single-family home furnace has a lifespan of 15 years or less. But the old fashioned Franklin wood stove can last an entire lifetime. Teflon coated aluminum cookware has a lifespan of 5 to 10 years. But a cast-iron skillet can last for multiple generations. A simple, focused life is typically a happy life. Simply hand tools make the jobs last longer, but easy to maintain and repair. When you purchase equipment, tools and gadgets, think of what it might take to maintain, repair, and replace. Too many people get into trouble by buying the biggest house they can afford, then have no cash reserves. Or the furnace fails or the water heater stops working, thus repairs are paid by credit cards. Debt creates complexity, dependence, risks, and anxiety. Debt is monetary slavery. Too many people lose their homes, simply by not providing any financial buffer for job losses, illness, or force early retirement.
6. Thou Shall Gather Your Resources
One of the primary concepts for survival preppers is to defer your pleasure by saving for the future. This includes staying out of debt, which improves your personal finances. Having a year’s worth of stored food allows you to glide through a short-term disaster or a job loss. (My recommendation is one year of stored food for a single person and three years for families.) Living frugally today allows you to live longer and better for the future. What is saving for retirement? It is setting aside financial resources to consume in your non-working retirement years. Everyone will someday encounter the proverbial “rainy day.” Your rainy day might be a personal disaster, such as job loss, illness, house fire, or death of a loved one. It might be your death, and who will provide for your school-age children? In consideration that mass monetary inflation is likely to return soon, and there is the potential for national financial collapse, saving money in the form of gold and silver coins is prudent. My recommendation is 10% to 20% of your financial savings should be in the form of physical gold and silver in your hands-on possession. Gold and Silver in ETF’s and mutual funds defeats the purpose of gold and silver. You must have your hands on your gold and silver for them to be useful in a disaster/survival situation. Rather than buying cheap plastic junk from China and multitudes of electronic devices, would it not be better to save some money for the future? If you have a 401(k) or 403(b) retirement saving plan at work, you should be contributing enough to receive the employer match. Instead of buying a 48 inch big screen television, instead buy a 32 inch television and contribute the difference to your savings. Gather your resources includes guns, ammunition, garden seeds, and tools. You need to accumulate your tools well enough ahead to learn how to use them. You need to acquire guns and ammunition well before is needed. It takes months to obtain basic firearms skills. As a general rule of thumb, you should be able to save 20% of your income for the future. If you are unable to save 20% of your income, then you need to downsize and further simplify your life. Sell the expensive vehicle acquired with debt. Rather buy with cash a less expensive, used vehicle.
You should be incrementally building up and rotating your food storage program. You can start simply with buying extra canned goods of your favorite foods. My goal is to keep about 6 months of daily used foods in short-term kitchen pantry. Then about 2 years of long-term food in the long-term pantry. The short-term pantry gets rotated on a weekly basis. The long-term food pantry holds food that can last 10+ years. I rotate my long-term pantry on an annual basis. Canned food is a marvel of modern science. Purchased canned goods has shelf lives far in excess of stated expiration dates. Expiration dates on food is indicated mainly towards the nutritional maximum benefit, rather than safety. During a normal (non-emergency) period, don’t eat food long past expiration dates. In an emergency (disaster) situation, if the food smells good and tastes good, likely it is safe to eat. Do a sample of a small portion of the food and wait two hours. If you have not digestive problems, then likely the food is safe to eat past expiration. With regard to building long-term stored food, I tend to buy 10 gallon food buckets of rice, wheat, oats, beans, and pasta. And I like to purchase a variety of foods in #10 cans from reputable vendors. In #10 cans, I have dehydrated and freeze-dried fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, candies, baking supplies, salt, sugar, peanut butter, drink mixes and powdered milk.
7. Thou Shall Seek Redundancy
The way to increase your survival opportunities, attempt to build redundancies into your life. Over time and use, everything will eventually break. The old adage, “Two is one, and one is none” should be in the forethought of your survival preparations. Rather than buying two different rifles, instead by two of the same rifle. Having common, redundant systems makes the process easier to obtain parts, repair pieces, and maintenance tools. Have your family or survival group standardize on the same equipment is a way to increase redundancy. Redundancies also lessens the learning curve. When your family or group standardize on the same equipment, the training time is lessened. Some of the items you can consider for standardization and redundancy include: guns, ammunition, tactical kit, sleeping bags, clothing, camping gear, communication equipment, electronic gadgets (especially battery operated items), energy sources, bug-out bags, survival location supplies inventories, gardening and farming equipment, tools, medical supplies, food storage supplies, food preservation (home canning, dehydration), and skills. Having redundant and standardized skills in your survival group allows for the loss of a team member. More than one person in your survival groups should have medical skills, gardening skills, energy production skills, shooting/firearms skills, bush craft skills, camping/hiking skills, communication skills, etc.
Consider having layers of redundancies. For example, heating your home should be organized with layers of redundancies. First, most homes rely upon central air heating, fueled with natural gas, electricity, or home heating oil. As a back up, have fireplaces and wood stoves. As a third level of redundancy, consider having a kerosene heater or portable propane heaters. A fourth layer of redundancies is the good old camp fire in your backyard (away from the home). A fifth layer of redundancy are wool blankets and outdoor quality sleeping bags. Your sleeping bags should be rated for below you likely winter temperatures. Throughout your survival planning, consider what layers can be added to your supplies and practices.
An important aspect of redundancy is living location. You must consider that your home is damaged or destroyed in a disaster event. Therefore, having a plan for a secondary living location is important. Having an isolated cabin up in the mountains is ideal. Or having a long leased hunting parcel with a portable sleeping camping trailer is a good idea. As a second level of redundancy, partner and communicate with relatives is near distant locations. Having a survival group that can support one another can provide a third level of redundancy. A pre-arranged motel or hotel within 2 hours drive is a fourth level of redundancy. Your camping equipment and tent provides a fourth layer of redundancy. I’m always disappointed to see people suffering after a disaster event, just waiting for the government to come help them. When a national disaster occurs, should as EMP attack, war, or economic collapse, the government cannot help anyone. Always consider that ”You Are On Your Own (YOYO)”.
Another aspect of redundancy and a common mistake of survival preppers, keep your supplies distributed in multiple locations. Too many people keep all their worldly goods and supplies just at a single home. If your home is destroyed in a disaster, then you would lose everything. I was very saddened to see after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy when people said they “lost everything” and had “only their clothes on their backs”. Your essential supplies of guns, ammo, long-term stored food, clothing, camping equipment, medical supplies, and gold and silver coins should be stored in multiple locations. If you have a survival retreat or mountain cabin, you should pre-position a lot of your supplies there. Also store some of your supplies with your near distant family, friends or survival group. Having a couple of storage lockers along the path towards your bug-out location provides a level of redundancy.
Redundancy also comes in the form of duplicate documents. You should keep extra copies of your important documents — stored in multiple locations. First scan your documents on a password secured, encrypted memory stick. Keep paper copies of your documents in a bank safebox. Keep a copy of important documents in your bug-out bags. The list of important documents include: birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, adoption papers, mortgages, life insurance, rental agreements, employment agreements, major contracts, receipts for major purchases, health records, drug and eye glasses prescriptions, wills, trusts, court orders, and anything else that is important to you. When you must make a claim for an insurance situation, you’ll need to be ready with your documents and receipts. I keep my family’s photograph library stored in multiple locations. At home, family photos and videos are stored on two computers and two portable hard drives. I also keep a fully copy of the photo library in a bank safe box on a portable hard drive. Have extra physical hard copies of photographs of your family for use in a disaster situation. If you become separated from family, be quickly able to provide police and rescuers with pictures of your family.
8. Thou Shall Increase Your Skills
More important than supplies is skills. Is a survival situation or disaster event, you will need to adapt, overcome, and solve problems. Lacking any skills, you will panic. Panic is a killer unto itself. Is a stressful situation, people always revert to this lowest level of training and experience. Have no survival skills, then less likely to survive. A highly skilled survivalist can be dropped into the middle of remote location with just a knife and clothes on their back, and likely to survival quite well by drawing upon their skills. By having skills, you can do more things for your self, rather than paying others. You should make it an annual goal to improve your skills. Having home skills, such as cooking, sewing, laundry, and cleaning is valuable for males and females. There are a variety of survival specific skills, which can save a life. Or a bad situation can be lessened to an inconvenience, if you know how to handle the event. Some crucial survival skills include first 1st and emergency medical care, camping, hiking, wild foods harvesting, bush craft, etc. Also having artesian or trade skills can be invaluable as a 2nd source of income. By having skills in auto repair, HVAC repair, plumbing, construction, electrical, welding, gunsmiths, equipment repair, medical care, and more, you can become more self-sufficient and produce a secondary income from a home-based business. Being able to produce wine, alcohol, bio-diesel, firewood, tobacco, and other consumables will be way to produce income in an economic collapse, grid-down situation. It takes knowledge and experience to produce these items. It can take years to gain the skills, so start now. Knowing how to organize and plan your survival approaches is a skill unto itself. Reading this blog and a variety of other survival blogs improves your skills. Learning is a life-long journey. The day you stop learning is the day you start dying.
9. Thou Shall Be Charitable
One the key attributes of good people is their ability to render charity. Charity comes in three forms – financial, goods, and personal time. When you are able to produce goods and income in excess of your needs, and you have properly saved for your family’s future, then you have a duty to provide aid to less fortunate people. My personal charity is the local food bank. I have policy of only helping those physically unable to help themselves. Typically, this includes the very young and very old. Healthy, working-age adults generally should not receive charity on a reoccurring basis. My personal believe is welfare and food stamps should only be given on a time-limited basis for adults. Allowing people to survive years on government assistance produces multi-generational cycle of dependency. That said, I believe that we should provide assistance to the less fortunate in your community. This can start in your own neighborhood by helping the elderly and shut-ins with home maintenance, errands, and simply things like clearing snow from driveways and sidewalks. Taking up a charitable cause is a healthy learning opportunity for every age. Having a perspective on what is truly important in life and what it means to poor or unhealthy, this allows you to consider the blessed circumstances of your life.
10. What Thou Cannot Defend, Thouest Does Not Own
One of the hard realities of being a survival prepper is recognizing the most people are not survival preppers. Across the United States, perhaps only 1% or 2% of people are survival preppers of varying degrees. With 98% of people not being survival preppers, the greatest risk to survival preppers after the initial disaster are non-survival preppers. Just think about the possibility where 98% of people are survival preppers, all having a year’s worth of stored food. Major disasters would become mere inconveniences. Since you are a survival prepper, you must defend what you own. The first aspect of defending your survival supplies is keeping your mouth shut (i.e. OpSec — Operational Security). Survival preparations should not be discussed beyond your spouse and dedicate survival group. Don’t tell your neighbors. Don’t tell your extend family. Don’t tell your coworkers. The first priority is to provide for your family’s needs. During a major disaster event, you first need to care for your family. If the entire neighborhood knows that you have a lot of food, guns, and ammo, you’ll be the first target of criminals. And when people get desperate, your home will become of focus point for hungry, angry people. You want to appear ordinary and nondescript. Once your family is secured and well-feed, then only if you have excess supplies, then you may provide charity.
What you can not protect it, you may not retain its ownership. This include a variety of dimensions. You must be able to defend your home and family. Evil exists in many forms, and can arise at anytime. By being able to continually able to defend yourself, your home and your family, you actually suppress evil everywhere. When bad people know there are immediate consequences to bad actions, bad people are more likely to act good. There many ways to provide self-defense to your family and your home. These include martial arts, knives, firearms, pepper spray and other items. Provide for security in your home with an electronic security system, watch dog, and secure entry into your home. As you travel and go about your daily life, always be vigilant of your surroundings and maintain a level of alertness of people around you. Criminals look for the weakest, least defended, and distracted people. Having a concealed firearm and concealed carry weapons allows not only the ability to defend yourself, but also come to the aid of other victims. (I always recommend taking a firearms safety class and conduct regular practice of your firearms. Store your weapons secured away from children and mentally ill.)
Protect what you own with sufficient levels of insurance. If you have minor children or a spouse that depends on your income, you should have life insurance. Everyone should have medical insurance. Your home should be covered with full-replacement coverage. If you are in a flood zone or live near a coast line, you should purchase flood insurance. Too many people let a small disaster become a huge disaster, by not carrying sufficient insurance. When Hurricane Sandy knocked down so many homes in New York and New Jersey, I was shocked at how few people carried flood insurance. Living on the coast without flood insurance is just inviting personal disaster. Hurricane Sandy was a once in 100 year storm. If you live to a ripe age of 85, you have an 85% chance of encounter that once-in-100 year storm. If you own a business, you should have sufficient levels of liability insurance to protect against lawsuits. If you can not afford the insurance coverage, you cannot afford the item. Down scale or move to a location that you can afford.
Securing what you own includes your financial resources. The recent financial crisis in Cyprus set a new level personal wealth destruction, as the government is taking about 60% of all bank deposits over a balance of 100,000 Euros. If and when an economic collapse comes to North America and United Kingdom, governments themselves go into survival mode. Expect that financial resources may be taken from individuals to prop up a failed banking system or a collapsed government. Always keep your bank balances below the FDIC insurance limits. Taxes will be another item to protect against. Ironically, high-tax states such as California, New York, Illinois and New Jersey have the most troublesome budgets. New York is notorious for taxing people without providing them with elected representation. As the economic moves step-by-step inch towards a Great Depression, I expect state and federal governments to increase taxes. Your first defense against taxes is to move to a lower tax state. Take all your allowable tax deductions. And retain your wealth in tangible assets, which cannot be taxed. Gold and silver in your physical possession cannot be taxed (at least not yet, and would be near impossible to enforce such a tax). Also heading towards the next Great Depression, government will continually, step-by-step reduce benefits and grants to individuals and benefits. Obama, that bastion of liberal, big-government, big-benefits society, is proposing a reduction in social security benefits. State and local governments have been cutting back on welfare, health care, education, infrastructure repair, and public safety. Because of this, it is doubly important that you become self-reliant, and not depend on any aspect of the government. If you are 40 years old, and expecting to obtain all of your retirement income from social security or a government pension, your life will very difficult, very painful in your retirement years. Government employees are extremely vulnerable to government cut backs. I fully expect government pensions, government provided retirement health care, and other care provided to retirees will be dramatically reduced in the future. The states of California and Illinois are near financial collapse due to the obligations of government employees retirement benefits. Government employees should especially embrace the concepts of being a survival prepper, since they are at great risk of losing future, promised benefits.
Inflation is a government-controlled form of theft of your purchasing power. The way the United States has avoided a full economic collapse up unto this point is by expanding the money supply. The price of fuel and groceries has arisen dramatically in the past couple of years. Store some of your wealth in gold and silver coins. Keep physical possession of your physical gold and silver coins. In a disaster situation, don’t expect to gain access to bank and brokerage accounts. ATM’s, Online Banking, credit cards, and bank branches will not be operating after a disaster. Cyprus declare a surprise bank holiday and extended it to two weeks. You will need enough physical cash in hand for at least a month of expenses. I suggest that you have 3 months of physical cash on hand, in case of a disaster or sudden economic collapse. One massive terrorist attack, nuclear war, or currency collapse could spiral out of control into a Black Swan event, which can ripple around the world quickly to accelerate the next Great Depression. Don’t keep cash, gold, and silver in a bank safe box, since the government can declare these held at anytime. The other way to protect your financial resources is by purchase of tangible goods and property. Tangible items include income producing real estate, such as apartments and farm-land. Other tangible items include an income producing businesses, which are likely to continue after an economic collapse. Personal goods, which become a tangible store of wealth include, guns, ammunition, gun magazines, precious metals, garden seeds, ownership of a remote mountain cabin, long-term stored food, medical supplies, medicines, hand tools, garden tools, farm tools, vehicles, and camping equipment.
Another aspect of defending what you own is your mental attitude and family’s happiness. You must be vigilant to maintain your own positive mental attitude. The key mental aspect to survival are positive mental attitude and adaptability. Becoming defeatist or depressed puts you on the path towards not surviving. You must defend your own psychology and the mental health of your family. By keep strong and healthy relationships with your family and friends, you’ll feel stronger about the road ahead, and better able to undertake the hard work needed to survive.
By being a survival prepper, you are must more likely to survive a disaster event or economic collapse. Look today at the people in Argentina, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, and Slovenia, where these countries have entered the next Great Depression. The people of these countries wish they could go back 5 years to prepare for their future. The entire Euro zone is in a recession. China’s economy is slowing down. The United States economy is barely keep its head above water, despite a zero% interest rate environment and ever expanding money supply. If the federal discount rate was raised by just 1%, the US federal debt would start to get out of control. You have the rare opportunity with advanced knowledge that the entire world has become riskier. Dying is easy. Surviving is hard work, that requires lots of forethought, hard work, sacrifice, and preparation. Being a survival prepper is providing “living insurance” for you and your family. And as being a survival prepper, you are part of the solution. Those that don’t prepare will be waiting in bread lines for their sole meal of the day. Or become homeless. Or become economic refugees. Or driven to violence or suicide, due to hopelessness. You can’t make the world a better place to be, if you are cold, hungry, and at risk for violence.
These survival prepper ten commandments are offered for the purposes of knowledge sharing and discussion among this community. I welcome your feedback and suggestions to improve this list. I am not so bold as to declare these as the rules for all survival preppers. Rather consider taking this list and adapting to your unique situations and needs.
May you always have food, shelter, good health, and the love of your families.