I don't include specific items but types of items on a priority basis. My priorities will be different than others, so feel free to jockey things around for your own situation. The main things are in the first two groups of five. It could just as easily have been a first 10 list, but I wanted to break it down into easy steps.
Some priorities to think about when you are just starting to prep.
Forget about Doomsday Preps, Armageddon, or TEOTWAWKI for now. Concentrate on basic human needs first and foremost. The rest can come when you’ve learned more and not only have, but have practiced with, the initial items. Begin to study and learn all you can now, and as you go along. Preps without knowledge aren’t nearly as effective as they are when you know the why-to and when-to in addition to the how-to. Develop a plan as you go along and adjust it as needed.
The needs are grouped together in basic order of need. Within the bracket, the items are essentially of equal importance. Having one without the others might or might not do much good or make much difference.
But something has to come first and something last, so they are listed that way, but the order of the groups is more important. Try to get the groups started in order, unless there is a pressing need to jump something ahead of the list. You don’t have to be ‘finished’ with one grouping before you start acquiring the items in the next group, but you should have a good start on them before you move on.
The overwhelming majority of preps will be needed for situations that occur at home.
Most disasters will not be Doomsday, The Apocalypse, TEOTWAWKI or WROL situations.
Most disasters will still have police and National Guard units enforcing law & order.
People will still be responsible for their actions legally and morally.
There will looters and violence in some major disasters, but the proportion of life & death incidents will be much smaller than the number of incidents requiring basic human needs.
Most households will have some basic items at home that can be used during a disaster. Not everything has to be purchased for use only during one. You can often incorporate into the preps items you already have. (Basic First Aid kits including some OTC & any needed prescription meds. A flashlight or two & some candles. A knife. Bedding)
The priorities are set follows:
1st Priority group: Items most likely to be needed during any disaster whether stay at home or bug out. People will need water to drink, some food to eat, a place to go to the bathroom, and a way to carry supplies if evacuation is required. This is a good time to set up the budget for preps, too. Won’t be much in it at first, but it needs to be started. It can be added to or changed as needed.
2nd Priority group: Important items, but not needed in many stay at home situations. It is important to have warnings of impending situations, especially weather related. But most homes have regular means to do this, like the Weather Channel or the news. Normally, people will be wearing seasonal clothing. Most homes already have some candles and a flashlight available. And there will have knives to use if staying inside. Protection will not be needed in most disasters that are minor, and most disasters range from minor to moderate. But if it is needed, it will be needed in the worst way.
3rd Priority group: Items that will make life a bit easier. Most people will have a basic first aid kit at home with items for minor injuries and basic meds, along with needed prescription medications. They have bedding that can be used. Most people will have some form of transportation all ready and will not need a specific BOV/PAWV yet. Being able to cook some food will be a comfort, but foods that don’t need to be cooked should be available anyway. Tools and hardware will also be nice to have but usually are not critical.
4th Priority group: Most people will have IDs so some the documentation can wait a little while. Preferably reference books will be purchased as needed, but an extensive library, which will be good to have, can wait since other people will have skills and the library may be intact. Finances are another thing that should be done all along, and are expensive. Like finances, CBNRE/HAZMAT gear is expensive. If it is needed, it will be needed desperately, but the probabilities are lower than for many other disasters.
5th Priority group: These are items that need either much training or are expensive and not necessary in many disasters
(And a disclaimer. Change the level of priority as needed by your situation. I feel that having at least something for the majority of situations is more important than having high dollar items for low probability situations first. You can begin budgeting for them immediately, and should, and then get them as soon as you can, but prioritize. What are your needs in your situation? If you live in a bad neighborhood or will have to travel through one during an evacuation, you might want to consider a firearm closer to the top of the list, if you can legally own one. The same if you live near a nuke plant, you might want HAZMAT/CBNRE gear sooner despite the expense.
This is a suggested list, a guideline for those that are just starting out, not the Ten Commandments etched in stone for everyone to follow blindly. The list isn’t particularly for use by anyone that already knows what they are doing as you’ve probably already set your priorities and are acting on them. I repeat: Change the level of priority as needed by your situation.
1st Priority group:
Water. Store a lot, locate a reliable future source, get water treatment/purification. A few 15-gallon water drums, a couple of stainless steel water bottles with cups for the BOBs, a quality water purifier, either a high cap camping filter or a combination of a drip filter for the BIB and a smaller hikers filter for the BOBs. Scout out locations for long term supplies of water.
Food. No cook, add hot water only, & easy-cook shelf stable foods, heavy on meats, fruits, and comfort foods. For both BOB and BIB. Learn to garden and grow as much as you can as soon as you can. Ditto home canning when you get the garden going. Don't be afraid of the commercially produced crops like wheat and oats. You can grow non-hybrid/organic types in a home garden.
Fire. Several means to start one, and a couple of items to contain fire. Fire steel, Lifeboat matches, lighters with some tinder for the BOBs. To heat one room in the house, an indoor safe propane or kerosene heater with a supply of fuel stored outdoors.
Sanitation/Hygiene. Chemical toilet, TP, hand washing means, bug spray, antiseptic cleaners, shovel to bury wastes. Toiletries. Charmin camper’s toilet paper and cleansing wipes for the BOBs. Infectious diseases protection supplies, face mask, gloves, goggles and hand sanitizer. And the ladies, and especially soon to be ladies, need large supplies of their needs on hand.
LBE. Equipment to carry your equipment when in the field. BOB/BIB/GHB/INCH bag/GOOD bag, etc. Packs, travois, game cart. I am a proponent of taking more than what you can comfortably carry in a back pack. Especially if you have children. Consider having some type of cart to carry heavier weights than you can on your backs, and give the little ones a chance to get off their feet.
Add everything to the budget list, mark down the quantities, purchase date and expire date, with the price per item and subtotal for that item.
Once the very basics of 1st Priority group items are obtained, and as additional items for it are acquired, go ahead and start on 2nd Priority group acquisitions. You do not need a year’s supply of 1st Priority items before you start on 2nd Priority group items. The 1st & 2nd Priority groups could be one huge group, but I feel that there should be some priorities because very few people can do it all at once. Add a few lines to the budget, down a ways, for the long term ideas and expensive ones that you will start seeing a need for someday
2nd Priority group:
Signals/Communications/Intelligence/Navigation. A wind up radio with NOAA weather alert (this could easily be the first item you should get if you’re in tornado alley or where coastal hurricanes occur), AM/FM, Short wave & a set of FRS/GRMS or MURS radios works for both BIB & BOB, Amateur Radios for LR comms, Binoculars, maps, compass, GPS, Flares/mirror/smoke/whistle. Forewarned is forearmed. If you know it is coming the better you can deal with it. And if you are lost or separated or trapped, having the means to signal will get you back a lot faster.
Season specific clothing/Shelter. The right clothes for the season. Basic camping gear in case the house becomes unlivable. You are probably already doing the right clothes for the given season, though here in Reno I see people going from heated homes to heated cars, to heated business and back again wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and flipflops in 20 degree weather with snow on the ground and coming down hard (I am not joking). Have what you need to keep you comfortable in the weather. And the camp gear is for when the house cannot be lived in and you need to camp out in the back yard or evacuate.
Lighting. Wind up LED flashlights. Indoor & outdoor. a couple of crank flashlights for both BIB and BOB, candles, propane lanterns, battery lanterns. Get some specifically for preps, even though you probably already have a couple with weak batteries and non-working bulbs.
Protection/Physical security. From wild domesticated animals, wild animals, and self-defense in those cases where it might be needed. Training, weapons, defensive measures. For some this is a much higher priority. Evaluate your needs and make the decision. They tend to be expensive, so set up a budget and start saving money for one now, even if you can’t get it yet due to the overall expense. Train, train, and train some more with them.
Sharps/Edged tools. Knives/SAK/Multi-tool, axe, saw, etc. Same as lighting. I’m fairly sure you have a knife or two in the house. Probably suitable for most uses, except lacking a sheath. But there are some blades that are better for field use and Swiss Army Knives (SAKs), and multi-tools can be handy, and if you need to build shelter or an outdoor fire, axes and saws will save you much labor.
At this point you should have a good feel for your family’s need, including longer term ones.
Once a good start on 1st & 2nd Priority group items are made, and as additional items for them are obtained, start on 3rd Priority group acquisitions. You do not need a year’s supply of 1st & 2nd Priority items to start on 3rd Priority group items.
3rd Priority group:
Sleeping: Sleeping bags, cots w/linens, sleeping pads. A space blanket for each person for the BOBs. If these aren’t automatically included in the camping gear you need to think about them if you have to bug out. Household bedding is fine for the house, if you can stay in it, and even use it in a tent if it is pitched in the back yard. But for evacuations, a sleeping bag is better, and a space blanket or space blanket bag are for last ditch sleeping and warmth.
Medical: Extensive first-aid kits, heavy on the trauma treatment for at the scene and in both BIBs & BOBs and the rest of the alphabet. These are supplemental kits to your regular home first aid kit. It’s is fine for minor cuts, abrasions, stings, and bruises. In a disaster the injuries are likely to be not only worse, but in great numbers. Stock up with quality in mind and with as much quantity as is possible. Another item to budget early on to get a bit later. And get some training.
Tools/Hardware/Cordage. To get you out if you’re trapped in, to get in to someone that is trapped. Tools and parts to make and repair items. 100+ feet of 550 cord for the BOBs, plenty of rope of several types for general use. Not everyone knows how to use many, or are physically unable to. These are primarily for at the scene of a disaster, but some items can be carried in the evacuation kits for minor things on the road.
Heat/cooling/Cooking: Means to maintain acceptable temperatures in home and in the field such as indoor safe propane and kerosene heaters. Gas grill w/tanks, various camping stoves for home or field to cook food when possible (but not in the house). No-cook, and add-hot-water-only foods are desirable in the early stages of a situation. But a hot drink and hot meal can raise the spirits and supply needed warmth in many situations. Not critical at first in some climate, but nice later on. Others will need to up this on the priority list if in a cold climate and suitable clothes for the weather won’t be available. This could include a generator in addition to non-electrical means so a refrigerator, freezer, AC, stove, etc. can be operated.
Transportation: A vehicular BOV if possible, Motorcycles, bicycles, animals, on foot. Since, in my opinion, the majority of disasters do not call for bugging out long distances, if at all, transportation is down here on the list. If you live in a tsunami zone, near an active or soon will probably be active volcano, you might want to up the priority level. And if you have children or pets or both, evacuation on foot is very difficult and calls for some more sophisticated measures
Add the time frame and amount for the long lead items that you plan to purchase and start saving a budgeted amount per month for that item/those items.
4th Priority group
Morale/Welfare/Recreation: Games, some small toys and some paper and pencils, religious books, movies, books. Something to keep the kids quiet and busy, adults entertained or comforted, or just to break the monotony.
Important Documents: IDs for everyone, Contact list, copies of insurance cards, etc. for the BOBs. There are several lists of what you need to have. This is another thing that, though probably doesn’t need to be budgeted for (except to get replacement birth certificates and passports) does need to be planned out and executed over time. You will be working with agencies of the government and big business with some of them and it just takes time. Start early and finish when you can will hopefully be good enough. It is serious enough for me to remind parents about children’s immunization records. Those could be a big deal.
Education and reference books. Going to need to how to do a lot of different things. Start accumulating as you see books and things on sale. Read over them and then put into good storage. Practice those things that are advantageous for ordinary times. Gardening, home canning, animal husbandry, auto repair, gun smithing.
Finances: cash, gold coins, silver coins, several dollars in small bills for the BOBs, debit card. This is special disaster related finances, not your everyday household budget. The things listed can, in various circumstances, be of great help. Or not. It is all situational. Some will take cash but not PMs, and some will take PMs but not cash, some won’t take either. Try to have something set aside if you have to evacuate.
CBRNE/HAZMAT gear: Extremely important if needed, but expensive and requires training. Radiation sensors, Respirator, Tyvek suit, other PPE. Bucket, brush, bleach to decontaminate. The cleansing items you probably already have. The PPE items are very important if needed. As stated above, if you live in an area where you have to think about nuke plants melting down, up the priority and get them in the budget for acquisition as soon as possible.
5th Priority group:
Wild food gathering (fishing equipment/hunting equipment/traps/game prep equipment, etc) This is long range planning. If you don’t already know how to hunt and fish, and process wild foods, you might want to work it into you schedule as you get more prepared.
Barter: Items to barter/trade to get things you need. For those that don’t think precious metals or cash will be any good, and to just have when having is better than not having. Don’t tie up junior
s college fund for it, but look at some of the many list on the forums that address trade and barter.
Spares: Spares for everything that uses consumables plus spare parts for critical items. Enough supplies for everyone when bugging out, a PAWV if money is no object. Once you get ‘things’, it doesn’t end. Some will need routine maintenance, some rotation, and some spare parts and extra consumables such as batteries.
Rappelling/climbing: Gear for those trained that might need to do some vertical work. Nice to know. Could save a life, even yours. But don’t even think about it without getting some serious training and some very expensive, quality gear.
Everything else. Stuff that doesn’t apply to me or I never think about.
Plus what I forgot. And I always forget something.
You basically then start over, on a new level, increasing the amounts of the consumables and adding various equipment you have discovered that will make your preps work better for you. Either your budget sheet or a specific expiration date/rotate date sheet will start having consumables marked off as you rotate, use, and replace what you use.
From this point you are in a position where you are thinking things through on you own, studying the available literature, checking vendor sites and Forums for more knowledge.
Just my opinion on the subject.
I disagree, slightly, with the first five.
I would list them as follows.
1. Water: no question here, definitely top five and top for most.
2. Food: Same. While one can last for several days without, they won't be up to doing anything.
3. Fire: For heat, light, signaling, cooking
4. Sanitation: Everybody has to go and want privacy while doing it. And without proper disposal, illness is just around the corner.
5. LBE: You need some way to carry the items above if you can't stay where you are.
6. Security: Guns and other means (could go in the first five if one lives where it is an immediate need.)
7. Medical: Will be needed at some point most likely.
8. Signals/communication: Some way to find out what is happening as well as two way communications with the group.
9. Lightning: Things happen in the dark. You need a reliable, portable way to see in it.
10. Sharps: You are going to need a knife at least, and possibly several other edged tools.
11. Season specific clothing. You're stranded if you don't have clothing that will get you through the weather at the time of the incident.
12. Cooking tools to go along with the fire. A hot meal will become a real morale booster as things play out.
13. Sleeping materials: Need better means than a blanket off the bed in many situations and if travelling.
14. Tools/Hardware/Cordage: For repairs or simple construction.
15. Transportation: While bugging in is preferred, if you have to bug out, using a vehicle to get you at least part way would be a great help.
There are another ten or so primary ones I can think of. Including HAZMAT gear, which would be higher up on the list if living near any nuclear facility.
Just my thoughts on the matter.