Home » Your Prepper Arsenal: The #1 Non-Negotiable Tool You Need

Your Prepper Arsenal: The #1 Non-Negotiable Tool You Need

We talk a lot about prepping on this site. Since we moved from the suburbs to the country four and a half years ago, we’ve slowly been learning the vital importance of being prepared for whatever potential disasters might come one’s way and what types of supplies are most important in a prepper arsensal.

Sometimes disasters come in the form of natural disasters such as hurricanes. We talked about this here when a fellow blogger shared her real life experience living through Hurricane Sandy.

Other times disasters come in the form of personal disasters, such as job layoffs. No matter what type of disaster hits one’s shores, whether it be terrorist related, weather related, income related, financial or physical, we’ve learned that there is one tool that you need in your prepper arsenal whatever you’re facing. And that tool is the ability to adapt.

The Tool You have to have in Your Prepper Arsenal

What do I mean when I talk about the ability to adapt? The art of adaptation comes in many forms. When Hurricane Katrina hit the shores of Louisiana, looting and rioting broke out immediately. Why? Fear. Many people couldn’t cope with the situation at hand and so they did what they knew to do; the panicked.

While looting may have helped them with short-term needs, it sure did mess everything up in the long run. Before you allow fear to come in and trash your chances of survival, choose instead to learn to be adaptable to any situation.

The Keys to Being Adaptable

There are several keys to learning to become adaptable in a crisis situation. The form of adaptability you’ll need will change based on the individual situation. Let me explain the four basic tenets of adaptability that will help you prepare for any type of a crisis situation. .

Emotional Adaptability

This may be the most important tenet of adaptability you can have. More than any other thing, it’s vitally important not to lose your head in a crisis situation. If you can keep your head on straight you will make better decisions because you’ll be thinking more clearly instead of allowing your emotions to guide your way.. How can you train your mind to function properly during a disaster? Start by training NOW to learn these things.

Accept the Situation for What it is

It’s tempting to go into panic mode when a disaster happens. Suddenly your life is turned upside-down and you can’t run it the way you’ve always run it. Maybe you’ve lost your job. Or had a serious injury. Maybe a storm ripped through town and you no longer have a roof on your house. Maybe a terrorist destroyed the building you work in.

Recommended Reading: When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes

Whatever the situation, it’s important to not let fear drive you. You need to accept the situation as early on as possible, because as my baby brother likes to say “It is what it is.”

*NOTE: there is a difference between “fear” and “gut instinct”. Sometimes in a crisis situation you’ll want to leave a situation out of fear. Other times your gut will be saying “Get the hell out of here – NOW!” It’s important to learn to listen to yourself and begin practicing to understand when your mind/body is reacting with fear, and when it’s your gut telling you to do something. This takes practice, so start today. Don’t wait until trouble hits. 

Okay, back to fear. Whatever the crisis is you cannot change it. Fear won’t change it. Anger won’t change it. Sobbing won’t change it. You have ever right to have these reactions; just don’t let them drive your decisions. Spend several minutes “getting them out” and then pull it together and get ready to move on to the next step. Don’t let a lack of mental strength drive you to make bad decisions that make the problem even worse. Instead, get ready to survive and thrive.

Make Plans Ahead of Time

If you make plans ahead of time and rehearse what you’ll do for any potential disaster situation, it’ll be easier to keep your head on straight. Don’t wait until disaster hits before you formulate a plan. Make a list of any potential disasters that could happen and make a plan for how you’ll deal with them. For instance, if you live in an area where tornadoes happen, make sure you’ve got a safe room that has the construction to withstand high winds.

If you work in an industry that is going through a rough period, be prepared for a job layoff by updating your resume’ and having cash in savings. Practice monthly fire drills with your family so you are adept at what to do in case of a fire. Practice escape and survival scenarios in case a break-in occurs while you are at home.

The more plans you have in place ahead of time for any potential disaster, the easier it will be to cope emotionally with one if it happens.

By doing these two things you’ll be able to help yourself get a handle on your emotions and not be driven by them if trouble hits.

Physical  Adaptability

Being able to adapt physically covers two areas. The first is your physical ability to do what you need to do from a health and strength standpoint. Obviously, your physical ability to adapt needs to be prepared ahead of time.

In any type of disaster situation, you might need to walk or run for many miles. You might need to lift heavy things out of your way or load your car or truck up with supplies.

Start training your body now to be physically adaptable. Start lifting weights. Start doing cardiovascular exercises regularly so you can train your heart to handle heavy exercise. Walk, run, hike, swim or bike at least three times a week. I know this might not be easy if you haven’t exercised in a while, so check with your doctor first and then after you get his or her approval, start slow and work your way up to being a stronger, healthier you who has the physical capability to do what needs to be done during a disaster situation.

Start eating healthier and avoiding junk and processed foods. Trade soda out for water. Start eating more salads and steamed veggies. Believe it or not, eating whole foods has an amazing effect on your physical condition. Don’t believe me? Go whole foods only for four to six weeks and tell me how you feel afterwards. Been there, done that, and have felt like a new person.

Check out this article: How to Prepare for a SHTF Situation

The other part of being prepared physically is knowing where you’ll go if for some reason you can’t be at your home. If there is looting and rioting in your neighborhood, or an environmental emergency, where will you and your family go? Do you have a cabin or second home? Do you have family members or friends that would take you in at a moment’s notice?

I can pretty much guaranteed that if a large scale disaster hits, every hotel within an hour’s drive will be booked solid, so don’t make that your plan. And if you plan to go further than that, you’d better hope your gas tank is fairly full because the gas stations will be boasting long lines in an evacuation situation – if the pumps are even functionable.

Whenever you see authorities telling people to leave their area, you’ll see two things; long lines on the highway and long lines at the gas pumps. Don’t be that person. Keep your tank at least half full at all times and avoid having to waste time filling up if a disaster hits. That will improve your ability to physically get yourself and/or your family out of town.

If you don’t have a plan for where you’ll go in a disaster situation, make one quickly by purchasing a piece of land with a cabin or trailer on it (doesn’t have to be anything fancy as long as it has running water and heat) or by making plans to bug out at a friend or family member’s place.

Also, it’s important to run through scenarios ahead of time and try and imagine yourself in the middle of each potential type of disaster. Where would you go? What would you do? How would your family communicate if cell phone towers were down? You wouldn’t, so it’s important to make a plan ahead of time about who would pick up the kids, where you would meet if you couldn’t meet at home, etc.

Material Adaptability

Material adaptability means having the material things you need to survive your disaster. In the case of a terror attack that might mean a working car and a full tank of gas. In the case of a storm that might mean proper shelter if your home has been destroyed.

It might mean having enough food and water to feed you, your family and your pets if a natural disaster hits or a terrorist attack hits and you can’t leave your home or the grocery stores are unavailable.

It might mean having the weapons to defend yourself if you’re the only one with a food stockpile and you’ve blabbed that info to neighbors. (In other words, keep your prepping plans to yourself)

Recommended Reading: The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster

If you’re facing a potential job layoff, that might mean having six months’ worth of the food you regularly eat stockpiled in the pantry and deep freezer that you rotate out on a regular basis. That way if you’re laid off you can spend much less money on food and personal items such as toilet paper.

Material adaptability also means having the tools and supplies you need to stay warm, safe and dry. Depending on the situation that might mean wood for your wood stove at home, or a decent tent and cold-weather sleeping bags. It might mean having ropes or tape or a portable propane grill or a can opener. This list of the first 100 things to go during a crisis will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Check out this article: How to Practice Physical Self-Sufficiency

For instance, do you have flashlights or lanterns with decent batteries? Do you keep your cell phone charged up? Think about all of the material things you’d need in the face of a disaster and have them ready whether you leave or stay at your home.

Financial Adaptability

Even in the face of a disaster, money talks. Often times in widespread disasters credit card machines aren’t working but store owners will accept cash. In the case of a personal disaster money is definitely an asset. It will help you pay the bills during a job layoff or help you pay for medical bills in the case of an injury or illness.

This is why it’s important to understand that prepping and personal finance go hand in hand. The more financially prepared you are, the better you’ll be able to handle disaster scenarios. Which reminds me; always keep a cash stockpile at home. Often times during states of chaos and disaster ATM machines are down or being stalked by looters.

Getting out of debt will also help you to be able to adapt financially, as it will minimize your need to go to work and earn money. If you don’t need the money you earn from your job (because you’ve got no debt and a plush savings account), you can feel free to call in and tell your boss you won’t be coming in for a bit.

Friends, every single thing you do to get yourself in a situation where it is easier to adapt during a crisis will make the situation an easier one to deal with. Don’t ignore this powerful tool!

Which of these four tenets is most vital in your opinion? 


  1. “Whatever the crisis is you cannot change it.” Getting the emotional part down is a huge part of adaptability in any emergency situation. If you can’t get your mind working, it’s hard to deal with anything else.

  2. Excellent points! I think being mentally adaptable is the most important thing. We’re so used to society functioning and our cozy little lives. People easily panic when all hell breaks loose–and when you panic, you make very bad decisions.

    • Laurie says:

      Great comment, and right on the mark as well. Not good to have your head messed up when the rest of life is messed up, but yet this is often the hardest thing to conquer.

  3. Evan says:

    “always keep a cash stockpile at home” I think this bears repeating. If the power goes out, that plastic card in your wallet is worthless. I’d say have a couple hundred in small bills in your bug out bag and the rest stashed away in different places in your home

    • Laurie says:

      Agreed, Evan!! People often think I’m paranoid when I suggest that, but the residents of places such as Greece will tell you it’s a smart move. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Ty Roberts says:

    I know this is easier said than done, but making decisions in advance helps so much. When we’re in crisis mode it’s hard to think clearly and rationally. So whenever you can have a decision pre-made, you’re doing yourself a favor (e.g. house fire = everyone meet at per-arranged destination).

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Ty!! People sometimes think we’re paranoid when we plan this stuff out, but it’s such a comfort having a plan in place.

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