Country Living Series

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Five levels of preparedness

A friend sent me a link to a web post entitled "Five Dimensions of Preparation" which comes from a website called Survival5x5 which has other cool beans stuff related to preparedness.

It's a sobering but realistic analysis if how prepared people really are to meet unexpected challenges. Test yourself and see where you rate.

Five Dimensions of Preparation

There are five levels of preparations for SHTF, WROL, and TEOTWAWKI

Level 0 (zero): Every emergency is a disaster

• Less than two weeks of food in the house
• No water purification system
• No bug-out bag
• No defensive weapons
• No way to produce their own food
• No physical gold or silver
• No tangible assets to barter

Level 1: Can Survive Two Weeks of an Minor Emergency (such as ice storm)

• Have sufficient food and water for two weeks of emergency
• Able to heat their home for two weeks without relying on the power grid by use of kerosene heater or fireplace
• Able to cook their meals for two weeks without relying on the power grid
• Has a first aid kit
• Likely has no defensive weapons
• Must leave their home after two weeks due to lack of preparation

Level 2: Can Survive One Month of an Emergency (such as major hurricane)

• Likely has a portable power generator and sufficient fuel for one month of operation
• Has handguns or shotgun to defend their home
• Has a month’s work of canned goods to eat from
• Has sufficient prescription medicines for 30 days
• Has enough batteries for power a portable radio for 30 days

Level 3: Can Survive Three Months of an Emergency (such as martial law or impacting earthquake)

• Has a deep-short term pantry
• Likely has a water purification system
• Likely has defensive weapon for each family member
• Likely has some type of neighborhood safety watch or 24 hour security watch rotation at the home
• Has stocked wood to burn in fireplace and/or iron stove
• Has communication gear to keep track of local and world events
• Has means to recharge batteries without relying on power grid
• Has three months of prescription medicines

Level 4: Can Survive One Year of an Emergency (such as currency devaluation, economic depression)

• Has a deep short- and long-term food pantry
• Likely has their own garden to produce food
• Likely has small-sized farm animals to produce protein (chickens, goats, rabbits)
• Has a deep supply of ammo (2000+ rounds per weapon)
• Is a spare weapon in event of damage
• Has mean to produce herbal medicines to replace prescriptions
• Has a long-term store of antibiotics
• Likely has dog for security watch
• Has full 24 hour rotation of security watch on the home (requires 6 adults)
• Show have secondary off-site storage of food, weapons, and ammo
• Is ready to bug-out with full hiking and camping gear, if security situation degrades
• Is able to educate their children at home

Level 5: Can Survive Indefinitely from their Home during an multi-year SHTF or TEOTWAWKI situation

• Has a fully functioning large garden or small farm for food production
• Is able to can and store the results of food harvest for the coming year
• Is able to harvest seeds for next year’s planting
• Is able to raise multiple generations of farm animals (cattle, sheep, horses)
• Has horses for local and distance travel
• Has enough ammo to last a generation (10,000+ rounds per weapon)
• Has spares of each weapon and lots of extra magazines
• Able to generate their own fuel (bio-diesel, alcohol)
• Likely has fully functional solar power bank with deep storage batteries
• Has natural on-site water sources for farm and home
• Has home-based business to generate income
• Is able to build new building and make any necessary repairs to existing buildings
• Is able to provide excess food for charity
• Has a secondary residency (such as mountain cabin) for full bug-out
• Is prepared for minor surgery and child birth at home
• Has stores of gold and silver for barter
• Is able to produce their own clothing (from raw wool or raw cotton with spinning wheel and small loom)


So -- where do you rate?


  1. Although we have quite a few of the items from levels three and four, I would put us at a cozy level two as of now. We have a small farm started but are dependent on store bought feed and seeds. We have herbal medicine, water purification and a long term pantry, but no radio, batteries, or a way to cook food. Getting there!

  2. We are between a 4 and 5 - all thanks to God above!

  3. Everybody talks about the necessity of Gold and Silver, but I have a tendency to skip that option in my preps. If things sink to a barter system, Gold and Silver are completely useless. I can't help but think other things such as Bullets and Mason Jars will hold much more value because of their direct benefits. And when on a limited budget like mine, I'd rather have items that you can use OR trade as opposed to just trade.
    Apart from that, I would put us right between a 3 and 4, but my family is pretty good at improvising, so I'm confident we would do alright.

  4. We are at level four but actively working to be at level five. Good article.

  5. Level 2 and accomplishments on levels 3,4,5.

  6. I am mostly 5 with some 4's and a 3.

  7. Been at Level 5 for over 25 years :-) We live in Amish country so it's no big deal.
    We have no secondary residence by choice and will never "bug out" because we will not abandon our community, animals or land.
    And horses should be used for draft work ..not for local travel - that's what a bicycle is for.

    1. Wow, you are amazing. Wish you had time to blog every day. Guess it's time I go check your blog, just in case you started back up again.

  8. Interesting list... we're mostly level 4, with nothing less than level 3 and several 5's also taken care of. But unlike several commenters above, we're not actively working towards a complete level 5 because that means living on a self-contained (if perhaps small-scale) farm, which is not practical for us at this point in our lives.

    Now, my oldest (teenaged) son does ride horses and also works at the local stables, and we've got our own chickens and a garden, but even something like the Lewis homestead is not in our "edge of suburbia" future. However, knowing our limits in such areas helps us plan how to compensate with more depth in other areas, so this was still a helpful list to peruse. Thanks!

  9. Somewhere between 1 and 2 unfortunetly, though in some ways we're halfway to 3. My goal is to have us solidly on 3 in the next few years, its been slow going. I'm not sure 4 or 5 is possible for us on our current property and location and finances, but if I can get us solidly on 3 with pieces of 4 and 5 I'll take it....

  10. Mostly 5, but have one or two items on Level 4 and 5 that we do not feel the need for...

  11. We are at a 5 with the exception of a bug out location as we will not abandon our farm, we already produce 80% of our food and 10% of the other is junk we could live without (soda, chips, coffee, dry cereal) the other 10% are things like soda, salt and cream of tarter which I have a supply enough for about 3 years at which time I would have to barter to get more. We are already in a very rural location so we are already "bugged out". We do not have quite 10,000 rounds of ammo but we do have cross bows and the ability to make bolts if needed. We also have black powder firearms and a stock of black powder, projectiles can be molded from scavenged tire weights.

    Good article

  12. Sometimes I forget to appreciate the standards of grammar and literacy you maintain in your articles, then I encounter another website where the otherwise good information is interspersed with mistakes. Thank you for not only the information you provide but for taking the time to provide it without errors.

    1. I acknowledge my deficit in grammar and spelling. Writing is a forced skill for me, and doesn't come naturally to me. But I have great passion for the subject matter. Great feedback from everyone. Please note that there is no advertising (yet) on my site, since it is a personal blog. My day job consumes me at 10 hours per day, thus my blog posts are written in the late hours when I should have already gone to bed. I love this Rural Revolution website. It is a great source of information. And it is a great community of people. Wish you all peace and prosperity - Suburbanprep from

    2. Glad to hear from you, Suburbanprep. I apologize for not waiting to hear back from you before reprinting this post, but it was so excellent I wanted to pass it on. Keep up the GREAT work on your blog.

      - Patrice

    3. I am very pleased that you reprinted the article. As our is a community, sharing information is goal. - Suburbanprep

  13. solid 4, But like other anonymous don't store more than junk silver but lots of mason jars and other very useful items. A recent setback in a chronic health condition that has not responded to alternative medicine has caused me some serious sleepless nights from worry. I don't think I'll ever feel like our preps are a sure thing anyway.

  14. Level two,maybe a tad beyond. Side note-producing fuel in any quantity(say more than 5 gallons)isn't easy-riding a bike is a better option than trying to run your car on homemade fuel, solar panels/waterwheels/thermopiles would be a better choice than a generator requiring fuel. On a related note, some modern cars are set up from the factory to run on up to 85% alcohol. I have a couple clearance-pile 12 volt battery chargers, surplus NiMh AAs, and a Harbor Freight 12 volt "solar adapter"-total cost? Less than the price of three packs of AA alkalines. I could keep flashlights and a radio going for a long time.

  15. Thank you for this post, Patrice, and to all who replied.

    Hopefully we'll never have to put any of this to the ultimate test.


  16. This is one person's view of appropriate preparedness levels - remember, each person (and each location) has different requirements.
    I agree with Anonymous 9:15 that producing fuel is difficult and probably not as critical as the original post suggests.
    I also think 10,000 rounds per weapon is more than necessary, even for a long time - marksmanship and thoughtful expenditures can stretch even small amounts quite a ways.

  17. It is strange because I have items at every level, but I don't have any one level totally complete. I would say if you put it all together we are probably at a 2 maybe 3 with aspects that could take us longer.

  18. Have some stuff from levels three, four, and five. No water purification system or generator, but when we lived off grid, we lived more like the Amish and used stored water or boiled it, or pumped it from then hand well. We have tons of 18thC & 19thC skills and equipment (Dutch ovens, churn, spinning wheel, hand carders, looms, from our re-enacting days, so we would just be a little more primitive then most.

    Kate W.

  19. We are rock solid on level 2 and working into level 3. I am the person who takes care of the preps. DH is aware but unconcerned about the news reports - unless it is on ESPN!
    I don't have much precious metal to barter with. I am also of the opinion that it won't be very useful long term. I do have a nice stash of salt to use as eventual barter. We will all need salt.

  20. We are pretty much at 5 except for a couple things. And have been for years, just the way we live haha like in the old days!

  21. I was recently reminded after reading an autobiographical book by a man who was a young child from East Prussia who survived the Second World War and the takeover and occupation by the Russians (Weeds like us by Gunter Nitsch) that people survived before anyone knew about "preparedness".

    There was no such term for being physically and materially prepared in past centuries. The ability to store food, medicine, to purchase bug out locations, etc. was something only rich people could afford to do -if they even thought of it.

    I am a prepared person, but I have to remind myself not to have such abject FEAR about future survival in any calamity that I feel doomed from the start if I am not at Level 4 or Level 5 of someone's preparedness model.

    The best way I can prepare is to make sure I have as much knowledge about wild plants that are edible. My canning jars and equipment may all be destroyed or seized by others; my food supply stolen or ruined. I need to know what to do when there is no shelter available, because I may be chased from my home in the middle of the night or in winter, or it may be utterly destroyed. I need to make sure I possess self-help medical knowledge even without a year's supply of antibiotics or blood pressure medicine, because I may be on the run or imprisoned or unable to have access to my supplies. Most importantly, I need to possess the mindset that God will provide for me, and He does that partially by instilling in me an attitude of dogged survival.

    Societal breakdown due to civil wars, wars with other countries, and occupations by foreign powers have been the norm throughout history. Our recent ideas of preparedness are nifty, and I thank God for the ability to gather these supplies and for the financial resources and the mental wherewithal to gather them. BUT I have resolved not to count myself down and out and completely doomed if I am caught in a crossfire of civilizations or cultures or natural calamities.

    People need to realize that it is a FACT that people have survived horrible calamities and destructions without material goods stored away in cellars and basements when all their material goods have been stripped from them, when they have been forced from their lands and turned into refugees.

    I'm not saying "Don't prepare." I am saying, throughout history, to be prepared meant something quite different than it does today. Be prepared, but remember not to go overboard. You may end up losing it all anyway, and if history is the model, you probably will.

    I'm a prepper, but I am a realist, and I have studied history. To have the mindset of "I am gonna survive no matter what" is the best asset in your preparedness cache no matter how big your material cache actually is.

  22. I would say that we are a solid 4 with the exception of farm animals,even though we live on 3.4 acres we are too close to the city. We don't wish to attract the city hoards to our local when TSHF, and currently no dog. However we have been feeding the birds aka squirrels, so we have plenty around us that we can harvest, as well as a small pond and stream for small fish.

  23. A loom? Really? Why not just buy extra clothes that will last. My parents have clothing that have lasted them 10-20's takes buying quality clothes and taking care of them and not caring about fashion. We do it especially with the kids. I buy up to 5 years ahead of time and just vacuum bag the clothes for storage.