Books on Emergency Preparedness

Preparing for an Emergency

"Every battle is won, or lost, before it is ever fought." ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
This well-known quote refers to the preparation, positioning, and planning that make the difference in the success - prepare and plan well in advance - be ready - be prepared.

If I have all the stuff in the world to use in an emergency but don't have a plan and don't know how to use my stuff, all I have is STUFF; a pile of junk with no map to follow for their effective use in a crisis.

I have STUFF. I know how to use my STUFF. And I keep buying more STUFF. But, I put off making a plan because I didn't know where to start. The task seemed overwhelming. I like simple. When I found this book, I felt that I found simple and basic guidelines on making my emergency plan. Again, I am not an authority on this stuff and there are likely better resources but, of those I have researched, this one works for me.

The P4T Emergency Preps Checklist is a very basic jump-start to begin your Emergency Preparedness. From there, you will become more educated and comfortable to proceed with more details.

In a paperback book called "When Disaster Strikes" by Matthew Stein, pages 22 through 33 lists things to consider, short term planning guides and the top ten survival skills. The rest of the book supports these and long term survival techniques and planning as well as hunting, first aid, living off the land, self-defense, starting a fire and much more. It reminds me of my old Boy Scout Handbook on steroids . . . a book worth having in hand when something happens. I took the overall essence of pages 22-33 and created this document which you may use to start your own Emergency Plan. Permission to post this document for free distribution was granted to me by the Author (Mat Stein) and the Publisher (Chelsea Green Publishing).

Now, when I find another resource, on a particular topic that makes things clearer to me than this book, I print 3 copies and paste them, as separate pages, into my 3 books where the book topic pages are located. For example: Pages 213-214 describe the construction, and use, of a Solar Still. The book gives a good description but the drawing/diagram doesn't do the description justice so I found some images on the web that make it clearer to me and I pasted them in the binder-side margin of page 213. In essence, I am customizing my books to be more useful to me.

I suggest reading reviews on the book, and/or checking it out from your local library, to make an intelligent decision to buy or not buy. If you buy and follow it, you will be ready. Then buy several more copies to keep in your emergency bags and more to give to friends, marking pages 22 through 33 for them to help them realize they can do this too.

Now, my STUFF is more useful.

Contingency Plan: After completing a Primary Plan, start working on a Backup Plan or build in contingencies in the main plan because things will, usually, not go as "planned". Try to think of all the "what ifs" and document solutions through them. Additionally, backup plans should be made and implemented for our financial stability.

Review/Modify: Keep a Crisis Journal, during an incident, to review/modify your plan after an incident. Review your plan when current events happen that could escallate into a real bad local situation. Keep it simple. What's the rational response to the situation developing before us? Should the plan be modified based on changing conditions? Should the Contingency Plan be used?

What are the practical steps we can/should take, from a prepping perspective?
Regardless of your personal feelings about the government or FEMA, their website,, is a storehouse of useful information. This Guide to Emergency Preparation is chock full of useful information presented in a format that is easy to read with photos, charts and checklists and can be downloaded or mailed to you, FREE, via the U.S. Postal Service by emailing a request to or call 800-480-2520.

A Risk Analysis is a method by which a fairly-accurate assessment can be made of determining your preparedness level and the quantity of supplies you will need. The Natural Hazard Science web site and International Journal of Disaster Risk Science go to a lot of effort in attempting to make detailed predictions. A simpler, less accurate, method can be found here to help with our level of preparations. It can be as simple or elaborate as you want to make it. This may sound complicated but don't let the phrase scare you.

Download This Prepared [Excel] Spreadsheet to Start Your Risk Assessment

1. Several methods to purify and store water. 3 gallons per person per day is a minimum and 5-6 is better for washing and cooking.

2. Several ways to cook food in a power outage situation and to save money if prices of energy increase. See also the P4T Rocket Stove Post.

3. A high-quality multi-tool is a must have for purse, pocket, or glove box. When it comes to essential tools that may make the difference between surviving or not, Don't buy cheap!

4. Firefighter Axe to chop up some wood to start a fire to cook your food. Or you might need to break some windows to help people who are trapped. And you can use the axe to break through doors that will lead you to some supplies when you need them. Don’t opt for a hammer or a crowbar.

5. Cash. Banks and ATMs may not be available during a natural disaster or emergency event. Set aside some cash each month, in smaller bills, and have it ready to grab if you must ever leave your home in a hurry. Figure on having enough to pay for 7 nights at a hotel, 3 or 4 tanks of gas, and enough to pay for a week’s worth of food and other supplies.

6. Dust Mask to breathe clean air after a catastrophe. In an earthquake, for example, buildings can collapse and cause tons of dust and debris to fill the air. You can’t afford to breathe in dirty air. This is especially true if you plan to help look for survivors. You must stay safe so that you don’t become another victim. A dust mask is easily one of the most important things to have in order to survive a catastrophe.

7. Fleece Fabric can help you and the people around you stay warm when electricity and gas lines get severed. It can be a source of comfort for people who lost their homes and maybe even their loved ones. Fleece fabric can be purchased in bulk for a cheap price. You can make blankets and other materials out of it for your safety during a catastrophic event. You’ll be glad you have the fleece fabric when the power goes out after a massive flood or tornado.

8. Extra Clothes to stay warm and dry. Extra clothes can help everyone stay clean and comfortable. But you can also use shirts as rags and bandages. You may run out of supplies from your first aid kit if the catastrophic event takes place over a long period of time. You never know how you could use extra clothes, but be sure to have them ready in your kit.

9. Rope / Cordage is always useful for tying, sewing, lifting, climbing, hanging things, tenting and a ton of other uses. Paracord is especially useful as it can be divided into its multiple internal "strings" for many other uses.

10. Signalling Mirror can be used to alert people to your location. This may be the only way you can attract people to your location during the day. As a last resort, it can be used as a knife or other tool when broken.

11. Flashlight , with spare batteries, or one that solar-recharges, cranks, or uses the Faraday-Principle of electromagnetics when the power goes out. Flashlights will help you see as you make your way around your home and the outside areas and to locate supplies as well as people who need help.

12. Portable (battery, solar or crank powered) Radio to stay informed.

SKILLS VS. STUFF:    [Blog Link]
Prepper-types love their gear, and gear can be good if it is accompanied with the knowledge to use it. But survival requires serious skills (primarily fire-making) and methods outside of just storing gear and food for disaster. Gear cannot be the only answer to emergency preparation. Knowledge and skills needs to take precedence over gear; skills like Intelligence Gathering, Escape and Evasion, Personal Care, Defusing Hostility, Unifying the Community, psychological exercise, and non-weapon Personal Protection are a few skills to practice over gathering gear.
Basic Skills to learn:
Camping gear. In the case of an evacuation, take this with you in case hotels are already filled. Additionally, camping skills double as survival skills. Learning how to locate the best camping spot, how to pitch a tent, how to cook over a fire, and how to enjoy nature are important for every member of the family to learn. A good quality tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and a camp stove are good basics.

Customized emergency kits for getting out of town in a hurry and packed with everything you need to survive for 72 hours on your own.

2-Way Radios to communicate with others.

Basic bulk ingredients with long shelf lives are a must. Wheat, rice, and beans are versatile, when you add a variety of spices, herbs, and other ingredients and will last for decades. There are food shortages around the world and droughts in the U.S. that affect food production. It’s likely we will experience either shortages, much higher prices, or both in the future. Pick up simple things, for your stockpile, when you’re doing your regular grocery shopping.

A .22 rifle or handgun is an inexpensive firearm that is useful for hunting small game. Because the ammunition is very budget friendly, a .22 is ideal for learning and developing marksmanship skills. You can always move up to more expensive guns, but the skills you develop with a .22 will easily transfer to larger caliber firearms. For quieter options, consider a high-powered air pellet gun (at least 800 fps) for hunting small game or crossbow for larger game.

A selection of non-GMO, heirloom seeds suitable for your climate zone and your family's liking. Heirloom seeds are preferred since they haven’t been genetically modified. Save seeds from what you grow to plant your next crops.

Grow a personal comprehensive survival library by downloading free survival manuals, and acquiring DVDs and manuals like When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival Paperback by Matthew Stein.

Brief video book review of When Disaster Strikes
Purchase on

Emergency Planning Basics
FEMA Citizen Emergency Planning Guide
How To Prep Like a Pro
Camping Check List
FEMA Family Preparedness
How To Prepare?
Survival Lists and Kits

This free PREPPING MATRIX (PDF file prints out to 18" x 24") is also a good tool for developing a plan and using in an actual situation. The second YouTube video is an actual preparation presentation to provide additional guidance for planning.