The Six Tenets of Survival for Preppers

The Pyramid of Survival may only be Water, Food, Shelter but when you incorporate the Prepping Mindset we add the support of three other aspects. These are Hygiene, Communications, and Security. A visual representation can help you prioritize your prepping so that when a Life Altering Event (LAE) occurs, survival will be simplified. 

1.Know Shelf life; use expiration / sell-by dates as part of organizing.

2.Stock what you & family will eat; stock what you like.  Avoid undesirable foods.

3.Rotate your food stock to your pantry; Eat what you stock, buy more to replenish.

4.Know and use various storage methods: canning (water bathing, pressurizing, pickling), vacuum sealing, freeze drying, dehydrating, storage totes, food-grade buckets & mylar storage bags.

5.Know different types of food, storage, & benefits:  canned, dehydrated, freeze-dried, etc.

6.Learn to garden; incorporate it into your food plan.  Initially, it can be hard work getting a strong garden going, but once it is, you will be able to harvest fruits and vegetables.  Use what you need; can or freeze the rest.

1.Bottled water is good to have, but should not be relied on as a primary.  Not only can this get expensive, it is a massive waste of plastic.

2.Consider storage methods (jugs, water barrels, bathtub bladders, etc.).  Have multiple sources and options, if possible.

3.Learn / know how much water you need, per person / per day (week, etc). Typical recommendation is 1 gallon per person, per day (1/2 gal for drinking, 1/2 gal for hygiene).

4.Water filtration & purification is essential for long term water supply. Boiling, charcoal filter, iodine, chlorination tablets, bleach, other filters. Store-bought filters can also be a great addition, such as the Sawyer or Life-straw water filters. It's probably part of Murphy's Law but chances are, one day you're going to need potable water but not have a means to purify it. Consider keeping a small water kit with you. We've got water purification hidden away in this Paracord Bracelet and one inside the backing of a Velcro Morale Patch.

5.Learn / know other useable sources of water (rain, water heaters, fire hydrants, etc.).

6.Learn / know what types of water sources to avoid (pools, saltwater, stagnant water like ponds, etc.).

7.Start now, don’t wait until you need it.

1.Look for natural shelters: caves, hollow stump or log, tree thickets & brush, rocky overhangs (make sure they are structurally sound before using).

2.Keep a poncho, and/or at minimum an emergency blanket, and rope or 550 cord; consider an emergency sleeping bag, like a Tact Bivvy or similar compact bag.

3.Shelter considerations should include location (safe), insulation from the elements (such as wind, rain, fire), heat source (body heat, fire source like a stove or campfire), shelter size (personal or group).

4.Using natural materials, such as brush, branches, leaves, snow, and/or trees, can provide abundant materials to construct and insulate a shelter.

5.Basic shelters: tarp shelter (numerous types), lean-to, debris shelter, “spider” shelter (almost like a teepee – resembles a spiderweb), hut (can be simple or complex), scout pit or other holes/ground depressions, snow cave, igloo, etc. Make sure you have a way to made repairs if your ten gets torn or even if your poncho or jacket gets ripped. Keep a handy repair kit on you. We make on that fits in a small Tin and one that's hidden inside a Patch.

6.These are just a few basics, shelter building is something you should learn; there are hundreds of books and online resources on shelter building.

1.Wash hands before handling food, and after handling objects, touching dirty objects, raw meat, dead animals, etc.; Use hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, and/or soap & water.

2.Wash hair. Prevents parasites (fleas, lice, bacteria); keep hair short if possible.

3.Brush teeth. Helps prevent bacteria & plaque build-up; also helps prevent gum disease & cavities.

4.Clean clothes. Prevents parasites & disease; Clean, dry clothes are also a better insulator (warmer).

5.Take care of your feet. Primary mode of transportation; wash them, keep clean & dry; and change socks frequently; Keep nails trimmed and treat rashes & blisters as soon as possible.

6.Get plenty of rest whenever possible; will help provide more energy & alertness; will also help with mental state.

7.Keep toilets or latrine areas at least 200 feet from water sources, food prep, eating and sleeping areas (if stationary).

8.Think about pest control: bug spray, DEET, bloused pant legs and arm cuffs if possible; poison or traps for rodents; fly paper / traps.

9.Supplies. This list could be endless.  Minimum: garbage bags, bar soap, toothbrush/paste. Other supplies:  shampoo, floss, mouthwash, dishwashing soap, laundry soap, anti-bacterial wipes, disinfectant spray, disposable gloves, portable shower & toilet, or a bucket with bags and a snap on toilet lid.

** This are tips for basic hygiene; What can be done will sometimes depend on water availability. Minimum water consumption per person/day will vary; use stored water & available water sources, and filter/purify if possible. **


1.Security is also a critical tenet.  If you aren’t safe, then nothing else matters. Understand your “tactical” situation and surrounding environment. What dangers are present? Are you in an urban or rural environment? Are there other potentially threatening people? Use these details to create a reaction plan in case of threats.

2.When picking your shelter or camping area, keep security in mind.  Use natural barriers as part of your security plan, such as a body of water, cliff, overhang, or other natural features.

3.What does your shelter or camping area look like?  Is it defensible? Know your weak points such as blind spots, paths into camping areas, or entrances/windows/etc. to your shelter.

4.If you are alone, set traps or makeshift barriers to funnel threats away from you, or to a specific choke point. Set monitoring alarms for areas of approach (trip wires with cans or “poppers”).  If there are multiple people in your group, set up a guard or patrol roster.  Establish a challenge & password. Don't forget the basic defense of your home. Bugout locations and campsites are cool to talk about but in all likelihood, you're going to be at home when SHTF and if your not home, it's the first place you should try to go. Download our Target Hardening for the Homestead Guide.

5.Weapons:  What kind of weapons/ammo do you have? Firearms (rifles/shotguns/pistols); Compound bows, crossbows, sling shot, sticks.  Are you proficient in close quarters (or hand-to-hand) fighting?

1.At a minimum you should have an emergency radio, with AM/FM freqs, that is rechargeable (crank/chargeable battery/solar); make sure it can receive the NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration – national weather system) frequencies. Don't underestimate the power of a smartphone even when there is no internet/cellular signal. Get our Smartphone for SHTF guide here.

2.Cell phone, satellite radio, satellite phone.  Non-licensed radios: walkie-talkies, Family radios (FRS), MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service), Citizen Band (CB) radios. For an in-depth look at comms, download out Contingency Comms Guide.

3.Licensed-required radios: Ham (amateur) radio - test & fee required, GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) – no test / fee required.

4.External equipment for the radios: antenna’s, power, possibly repeater stations.  Faraday cage / bags – protect electronics from EMP (electromagnetic pulse) threats.

5.Power availability for electronic communications:  solar-powered, or gas/diesel generator (and fuel for them), battery backup / power bank, disposable batteries, etc.

6.White light, strobe; infrared strobe light, PLB (personal locator beacon), laser pointers or markers.

7.Non-electronic: signal flares, signal flags (semaphore system), colored signal panels (VS-17, GVX, or other), smoke or fire signals; mirrors, Morse code (SOS). Keep a Morse Code Reference with you following an LAE, check out our Morse Code Patch.




So, did we miss anything? Drop a Comment below. The concept of the Six Tenets of Survival is courtesy of Missouri Prepper and was written by @missouri_prepper