By The Maj
When I started prepping, I went at it like I do most things in life, which is WIDE OPEN. During that first year, I amassed quite a stockpile of supplies and equipment with little regard to prioritization of true need. Now, do not get me wrong, I focused on need but the problem was, I felt as though I needed it all. Like most new preppers, I had the nagging suspicion that I was WAY behind and TEOTWAWKI was right around the corner.
My wife had bought into the whole prepping concept but she finally put her foot down and demanded that we stop and take a critical look at where we were (this was after I had moved her pictures from under the bed to a storage shed to make room for more “things”). Reluctantly, I agreed to stop all purchases until we could update our inventory list and properly evaluate it for true need. Updating the inventory list was simple enough and it took a good weekend to make certain that nothing was missed, but how in the world were we going to determine “true need”? We went back and forth and forth and back and back and forth again on what “true need” actually is.
Take a minute and think about it. What exactly is “true need”? Now, “need” is easy enough to define and in this case a need is something that allows me to survive or on a basic level to continue life. A “need” is often confused with a “want” but a “want” is not necessary for the very basics of survival. Sure a “want” may make survival easier but in the basic sense of survival the absence of the “want” does not mean the difference between life and death. Confused yet? Think of it like this, I “need” shelter (protection from the elements) but I “want” a hardened cabin in the redoubt. That example is a little extreme and some would argue they “need” a cabin in the redoubt, but as long as the basics of shelter are met the “need” is satisfied.
So, we could easily define and agree upon what a “need” was but we were still having trouble when we added “true” in front of it. We decided to break things down (very similar to PJ’s Prepper Pyramid) and assign a grading scale to each category. The categories included: Food & Water (1), Shelter & Fire (2), Personal Protection & Physical Security (3), First-Aid & Hygiene (4), and Barter Items & Currency (5). Naturally, from our perspective, the lower the assigned number, the more critical the “need” was deemed to be. Using this break down and grading scale, we reorganized the inventory list to match each category as identified above. Standing there, looking at each category on its separate sheet of butcher paper, with all the items in our inventory listed, I realized that my wife was right to some extent and that I had lost control of our preparations to some degree.
I had a lot of supplies and equipment but I had also missed some things in my haste to prepare for some unknown event on the horizon that was going to change life as we know it. I became frustrated and stewed over where I was and how I had gotten there over the course of the next week. I kept coming back to “true need”. What is it? How can I determine it? After studying the issue and researching as much as possible, I finally decided to attempt to break things down even more. The problem was huge, almost overwhelming.
Taking the basics, I broke them down into time periods for survival of basic events. I ended up deciding on six time periods post SHTF event to include: 72 hours, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. In my line of thinking and as a fact, if I did not survive the first 72 hours, there was no need to be concerned with preparations past that point. Would it really matter if I had six months worth of food and water on hand but did not have adequate shelter past one month? Would Barter Items have any value in a 72 hour event? Did I need heirloom seed as a long term food supply when I only had one week’s worth of Personal Hygiene supplies? As I sat there, I began to get a better understanding of “true need” and developed a simple tool to help guide me on my purchases:
If I had taken the time to make this chart and planned my preparations from the beginning, I would have focused on acquiring and stockpiling food & water for a 72 hour event first, then while I was working on stockpiling 1 week’s worth of food and water, I would have simultaneously been working on ensuring that I had adequate shelter and fire making capabilities for 72 hours and so on. I would have used each column as a gate that I had to meet before I moved onto the next gate. Instead, I had gone a year stockpiling supplies and at the time that I drew out the chart above my stockpile looked like this:
Needless to say, I was startled by what I came up with. Here I sat, like many “newbie” preppers, working on having enough ammunition to outfit a small army and only having enough food and water stockpiled to last me one month. Sure, the argument could be made that I could use ammunition to hunt but the question remained was there a “true need” for that amount of ammunition at that point in my preparations? The answer is “NO”. If Food & Water is my most important need, then stockpiles and preparations for other areas should not surpass it. With limited resources, including money and storage space, my focus should have been scaled and organized according to “true need”. I realized that “true need” was having the right amount of supplies at the right time post event.
As you travel through this prepping world, you will be faced with numerous decision points, “weekly deals” on supplies and equipment, and “expert opinion” on what and how much you need to have on hand. You will also be limited on where you are in life, how much money you have available for prepping, and the space available to store your supplies. Take the time to make certain that you are addressing your “true needs” as you progress in your preparations. Who knows, maybe it will save you some unnecessary heart ache in the process OR more importantly ensure you have the right mix of supplies and equipment to survive what is thrown your way.