You don't need to be paranoid, but it pays to prepare in advance instead of panicking at the last minute.
And if you're lucky enough not to experience nuclear war, your preps will still come in handy during a long-term power outage, since you will need food and water for the whole family. The same goes for things that might save your life if SHTF, such as seatbelts, a parachute or your home survival shelter.
There are many things that can harm you, and preparing for them gives you a better chance of surviving than not doing anything to protect yourself.
If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters like wildfires or tornadoes, fortify your home against these dangers. If you think you might need to evacuate, find and secure a bug-out location now.
You can also try to prepare for a limited nuclear exchange by building a good survival shelter.
Once your survival shelter is finished, you need to stock and equip it. Start as soon as you can since you will need a lot of food, water, weapons, ammo and medical supplies for the whole family. Rotate your supplies to ensure that nothing goes to waste even if you don't have to bug in.
Stock up on food and beverages with a long shelf life, such as:
If your property doesn't have a well, store at least a few week’s supply of clean water for drinking, cooking and sanitation.
When SHTF, emergency medical services might be unavailable. Prepare for this by stocking up on common medical supplies like medications for family members with diabetes, asthma or allergies. (Related: Always ready: 12 Must-have supplies to stock up on before SHTF.)
You should have at least two-month's worth of supplies, which you should rotate so they don't expire. Note that you won't be able to purchase certain classes of drugs. If the first doctor refuses, check with another.
Weapons are important, but you must learn how to use them properly. You'll need a shotgun, a .30 caliber or a larger rifle for self-defense or for hunting.
Don't forget to stock up on the right kind of ammunition. Stock up on hand tools, too, so you can build or repair your tools and gear.
If the weather is cold when SHTF, your shelter should be able to keep you warm even after sharp drops in temperature. You should also have a backup form of fuel for cooking so you can feed your family if one source runs out. Use either a woodstove chimney or a burner propane camp stove.
Get a broadcast band, ham radio and shortwave radio receiver so you can monitor the news after SHTF. Stock up on batteries for your radios.
It's difficult to stock up on gasoline because it can be dangerous and it doesn’t keep well under some circumstances, but it is necessary. If possible, vertically bury one or two 100-pound liquid propane storage tanks outside your survival shelter. The tanks can withstand over 400 pounds of pressure and they are relatively easy to obtain.
If you have two tanks, you will have about 50 gallons of gasoline. Use the fuel throughout the year for your lawn tractor or snow blower and restock it after using.
For emergency lighting, use 12-volt, battery-operated lights and kerosene lamps. The former is best for brighter illumination while the lamps are for long-term use.
Store kerosene in two-liter plastic soft drink bottles. You also need extra wicks for the lamps and matches or lighters.
Only a handful of situations require radiation detection equipment, such as nuclear war or accidents involving nuclear materials. You need at least a couple of dosimeters, which are used to detect and measure radiation that you have been exposed to. Keep an eye out for radiac equipment like a Geiger counter and dosimeters at garage and yard sales or swap meets.
Your shelter should also have a source of filtered air. If the survival shelter is under or very near your house, include a source of air away from flammable structures. For emergency power, you can get a 5500 watt diesel-electric generator or a simpler 12-VDC current unit. The latter should be enough for charging batteries to power communications equipment and lights.
Don't "steal" from yourself before SHTF. If you need supplies and don't have time to go to the store, you might be tempted to use items from your stockpile. It's fine to do this occasionally, but you should also replenish what you take so that when SHTF, you'll have what you need.
Don't wait until it's too late to draft an emergency preparedness plan, build a survival shelter and stock up on supplies.