How to be a Prepper: OPSEC for Preppers Step 1:
What do you have?
You need to learn how to be a prepper with good OPSEC, and the next step of your Operations Security plan should be figuring out what exactly you have. Why? You have to know what to protect when SHTF. Go through every single thing you have. Everything you have has a cost associated with it. Things take up space, require maintenance, have to be protected, have weight and cost money. If you’re in a survival situation, you need to pare down everything to what you need and what you think you’ll need. Get rid of the rest. You only have room for so much and you still have to remember: two is one and one is none. Make sure you have everything you need to have, and nothing more.
If you’re not already in that situation and you’re being proactive, then you’re a good little prepper. It’s not just enough learning just how to be a prepper, you need to know how to be a prepper who lives a prepping lifestyle today and not just gets ready to live one. To start with your prepping OPSEC plan, you need to inventory everything that you’re going to take with you if you bug out or keep with you if you bug in.
This is also the time to think about what you don’t have. Make sure you’re prepared with everything you’ll need, some things that you want, and nothing more. You need to make a list of lists and then put everything on that list. If it doesn’t fit into a category you need, then you don’t need it. Start weeding out the things you know you won’t need to survive. Like your old college books that you kept for some reason.
A big lesson on how to be a Prepper is about priorities
…because everything has an opportunity cost associated with it. You have to balance your needs and wants. Since you can’t take everything with you or even protect everything you take in most cases – especially when on foot or even in a vehicle, you’ll have to prioritize things. Later, you’ll have to prioritize even further to decide what you’ll need to protect. Each priority allows you to decide what resources you’re going to commit and what items you may choose at the expense of others. There several key descriptors you can decide to use for your inventory.
Here is a suggested list but it may be beneficial to change it, depending on your circumstances. For the basic inventory, I use; Item, Photo, Description, Location, Size, and Weight. Depending on how detailed you want to get and which list you’re making, you probably want to add several more categories. Depending on your lifestyle and the people you’re planning to include, your stuff may require several completely different categories but I’d suggest keeping these at least.
- Item – First, you have to identify the item. If it is part of a kit and you are definitely going to keep it that way, then it may be beneficial to track it as a kit. If not, you may have to track separate items but somehow relate them to each other. One example may be what you may decide to call your Bug Out Bag. The bag itself is one item to track but the bag and contents may be considered a set to make it easier. In other words, list your bag as one item and your complete kit, including the bag all as one unit, as another item. This way you can make a master list that just has a few items such as your EDC, bug out bag, vehicle get-home bag, commo bag, and caches 1-3. Each of those would then have its own inventory that should be kept with that item and also in a master file. Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. It sounds like a lot of work, and it can be, but you need to go through your stuff anyway. How many times have you bought something and then a week later, find that you already had one in the garage next to your stash of Playboys?
- Photo – Take a photo of everything you have if that’s at all possible, along with something to reference for size like a ruler. I know this sounds like a lot but if it’s not worth taking a photo of, it’s probably going to be going into the trash pile. By everything, I mean everything that has the slightest possibility of being taken with you if you bug out or protected, used or traded if you bug in. There may be several things that you think are so obvious that it doesn’t bear taking a photo of but you’re planning for the unknown here. What if you have someone else join your group and doesn’t have the background that you have? These photos would come in handy. What if you need to trade with someone who doesn’t speak the language or it was someone you didn’t trust yet but were considering trading for something that you didn’t want to bring with you? What if you come across a deal on something that works with another item you have (such as a bag for a portable ham radio that you’ve been wanting to carry), and don’t remember the size of your item? If you had photos available, you could just look them up.
- Description – What’s it look like? Depending on how much stuff you have and how many other people are involved with your operation, a description, could come in handy. How can you take inventory later on if you don’t know what something on the list really is? Put down the color, serial number, model number, what software it’s running, etc. The more the better. This particular section is a section in itself as to what descriptors you’re going to use.
- Location – Where is it? As mentioned in the ‘item’ section, the location is a consideration. Is it in a particular box or bag? Do you have it in a protected room or out in the yard? Is it buried five feet north of a particular tree that grows seven miles east of your location? This location should be where it’s currently located, not where you want it to be located. You can add a secondary location for that if you want to but if you need to find something, it won’t do much good just knowing where it’s going to be later other than as part of figuring out how you’re going to pack those Playboys.
- Size – How big is it? If you’re assessing your property and room is not an issue, then the size of the item may not be all that important. If you are considering taking it with you if you leave, or you’re assessing all the things in a portable kit then size will be a huge (no pun intended) issue. If you only have two square feet of space to carry items then an item that takes up a square foot is a large investment. Size can be measured as height/width/length, volume, compared to the size of a breadbox, or number of ping-pong balls of space it would take up. Whatever works for you.
- Weight – How many pounds or ounces is it? You could use metric but you’d just confuse me so just use ‘merican. This is especially important for personally-carried items. It may also be important when planning contingencies such as moving items from one location to another in case your security situation changes. If you put all this down on something like a spreadsheet or 3×5 cards, it makes it easier to not only know what you have, you can start planning on where everything goes before you spend all the time and effort to actually move it. Because measurements aren’t exact and things don’t fit together like puzzle pieces, your plan and your end state may differ. It’s usually well worth the effort to put some time into this phase though. I would actually weigh each item.
So go through what you have. You can look at this a couple of different ways: if you’re bugging in then what you have now will be what you’d have if SHTF and your list for now should be your list if all hell breaks loose. If not, then you should be considering two lists. You need to know what you have now and you need to know what you’re going to bring with you if you bug out. Inventory everything that you have that you consider valuable.