One of the best ways to ensure you’re on track to meeting goals is to occasionally measure and review your progress. Conducting a prepper evaluation helps you see whether you’re on track to reaching your preparedness goals.
Why should I perform a prepper evaluation?
Good question. The purpose of conducting a prepper evaluation is to assess your overall level of readiness in the past twelve months. When you know where you stood strong when a crisis hit and also know your weakest areas, you’ll be ready to plan and prepare for the upcoming year.
How will I benefit from a prepper assessment?
You may discover additional ways you benefit from performing an evaluation like this, but here are four key ones:
- It’s motivating. Sometimes in the daily slog we forget what we’ve accomplished. Stopping to review reminds us of the progress we’ve made so far.
- It identifies mistakes. Mistakes are opportunities to learn. But only if you stop long enough to see what they can teach you. It’s not just the identification of missteps that’s helpful, you see. It’s that you now have a chance to correct them. And hopefully not repeat them.
- It identifies successes. What worked well and why?
- It improves future planning. Put it all together and you create a game plan for moving forward that is more effective and more efficient.
That sounds like a win-win to me!
How often should I do a prepper evaluation?
This is an annual assessment. The results guide your short-term and long-term goal setting for the upcoming year. However, feel free to revisit this assessment whenever you like. It may be particularly valuable following a major event, like a winter blizzard or a hurricane.
How do I perform a prepping assessment?
Basically, you’re going to be thinking about these two questions:
- What emergencies and crises did you face that you were prepared for?
- What events were you not prepared for?
That’s the gist of it. However, you’re going to answer more specific questions in a number of different categories. We’ve broken it down for you below.
By the way, if you’d like this prepper evaluation in a handy printable format, with even more thought-provoking questions, click here.
These are the Prepping Areas You’ll Assess
Grab your calendar if you need to refresh your memory, and the results of any other assessments, if you’ve done them. Then, answer the following.
Food storage readiness
- Was there a time when you relied on your food storage in the last year?
- Did you notice items that you were always short of?
- Do you have a regular system of adding to your food storage pantry each week/month?
- Is there food and water in your vehicles and at your job?
- Did you need to rely on another cooking method?
- Did you have a garden? Was it successful? Why or why not? What did you grow that improved your food self-reliance?
TIP—Give some thought to how you’ll prepare food and heat water without any liquid or gas fuel whatsoever. Learn about this cooking off-the-grid method.
Water emergency preparedness
- How much water do you currently have stored for emergencies?
- What methods for purifying water do you know?
TIP—Survival Mom has a water purification cheat sheet with charts, checklists, and instructions for how to purify water quickly and safely. Get it here!
- Was your home safe from intruders and the elements?
- Did you have all of the tools and supplies needed to make regular and unexpected repairs?
- Is there any regular maintenance that needed to be done that wasn’t?
- How are your backups for electricity, heat, and water?
- Were there any downed trees, outside water pipe leaks, unstable fences, home break-ins, and such that required care?
- What is your homeowners/renters’ insurance coverage like?
- If you experienced a power outage lasting more than 3 or 4 hours, did you have enough emergency lights and maintain a healthy indoor temperature? Did you have alternative forms of communication and ways to cook food?
TIP—Your home needs three layers of security. Read about them here.
Preparedness for outside elements and nature
- What natural disasters have happened in or near your home?
- Were there heatwaves, storms, or other extreme weather you were not fully prepared for?
- Consider trains routes, freeways, and other busy roads in your area? What would happen if a toxic spill happened?
- In which direction does the wind blow at your home? It’s important to know this in case of toxic fumes from a fire or industrial accident.
- Did you have to evacuate your home for any reason? If so, did you have a plan in place and how effective was it in getting everyone out, along with the most necessary gear and supplies?
- If you had to evacuate, did you have at least one place to go for the duration?
- Do you have a map and backup routes to get home or to evacuate?
- How long could you live in your home without any outside help if you had to?
TIP—Learn how to organize your emergency evacuation here.
- Were there any vehicle breakdowns over the past year? If so, did you have the funds to take care of the repairs or vehicle replacement?
- Are basic tools in your car for minor repairs?
- Is there a Bug Out Bag or Get Home Bag in your vehicle?
- This past year, was there a time when you were away from home and realized that you needed something that wasn’t in your vehicle or kit?
- Did you have to call roadside assistance at all this year? Why? If they had been unavailable, how would you have coped?
- Are extra keys made for all of your vehicles?
- Do you have plans for backup transportation? Bus, subway, bike, carpool?
- Do you have a car manual and additional fluids in your car?
- Do you have extra fuel stored safely?
- Did you ever run low on your cell phone battery during an emergency?
- What is your communication plan if both landlines and cell phones were inoperable?
- Are there power banks and additional chargers in your cars?
- Does your family know who to call in case of an emergency?
- Where is your family’s meeting place if a disaster happens?
- Are your computers backed up and virus protected?
- Have you postponed taking ham radio classes?
- Do you have a battery/solar/hand-crank emergency radio?
TIP–Have you considered how you can communicate if there’s a disruption to cell phone service? Here are four reasons why you may want to consider getting a ham radio license.
Readiness for loved ones with special needs
- If you have someone in the household with special needs, have you made plans for how you would accommodate their needs in a major emergency?
- Did you have a complete diaper bag for your vehicles?
- Are there elderly people who need additional supplies kept in cars or at their bedside/chairside?
- Have you needed to have a list of medications that are being taken by those in your home?
- What medical supplies do you need to have on hand, “just in case”?
- Do those with dietary issues have enough food on hand for them in an emergency?
- Could you contact your doctor and get additional medicine for an emergency?
- What allergies have you had to deal with this year? Food, animals, seasonal…
TIP—Read more here about how to better prep for the elderly.
Prepared with vital documents
- Were you missing or needed to order important documents?
- Were there any emergencies in which you couldn’t find the paperwork or documentation you needed?
- Are there additional copies located in other places for safekeeping?
- What documents can be scanned and kept on your computer in a safe space?
- Could you grab all of your documents fast if you need to leave your home?
TIP—Here are instructions for creating your own Grab-and-Go Binder.
Health and fitness readiness
- In the past year, were there any medical emergencies? If so, did you have a plan in place to know exactly what to do? Were there any skills you needed but did not have?
- Were there any preventable health issues that happened? What steps can you take to make sure they don’t happen again?
- Did you go to all of your doctor, eye, and dentist appointments?
- What type of exercise did you do or should have done?
- Do you know what your health insurance covers?
- Was there a time you had to run to the store to buy medicine or other supplies you thought you had on hand?
- How are your first aid skills? Is it time to take a refresher course?
- If the internet was out, do you have medical resource books to help you in an emergency? This Survival Medicine Handbook is a must.
- What is needed to help those with emotional and mental disorders in your home?
TIP—Use this plan to help you improve your fitness level.
- What indoor and outdoor animals do you have?
- In the past year, was there a time when you needed to evacuate your pets and/or livestock? How did that work out? What mistakes were made and what went well?
- Are there carriers or trailers available if you needed to evacuate?
- What bug-out bag do you have for them?
- Do you have all of your animals’ paperwork in a safe location?
- Did you need to find a place to store your animals this year because of an emergency? If so, was that successful, or do you need to find alternative locations for next time?
- What water sources do you have for your outdoor animals?
TIP—Need some help packing an emergency kit for your pets? This could help!
- Did you have any financial setbacks this year? Were you prepared for them? If not, what can you do this coming year to be better prepared in this area?
- Were there situations where you used credit cards to make purchases because you didn’t have the money in savings?
- Are you putting money away for retirement? Is it going to be enough?
- Has there been a time in the last year where you needed cash or change and didn’t have it?
- Is there money (cash) in your bug-out bags and stored in your home?
- Does your family have adequate health, life, car, home, and other insurances? When was the last time you went through the policies to make sure they provide the right type and amount of coverage?
- Did any legal issues arise that were preventable?
- Did you use a budget?
- If so, did you stay within your budget?
TIP—Give this easy money-savings plan a try!
I’ve finished my prepper evaluation. Now what?
Now that you’ve completed the assessment, you have a pretty good idea of where you need to step up your game. You’re ready to plan the upcoming year now.
Make the plan by prioritizing items and setting target dates. Then get to work! If weekly or monthly progress reviews are helpful, add them to your calendar and set up notifications to remind you of them.
You made the plan. Good job! Now work the plan.
Remember we’re not only planning for a big disaster. Even small incidents can become overwhelming when we aren’t as prepared as we know we could be.
Your prepper evaluation identifies your strengths and weaknesses, based on events of this past year, and helps you take steps to address them. You might even jump-start it with some new year’s resolutions! And if you want to know one thing you can do to double your chances of achieving your goals, check out this article by best-selling author, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits.
What areas did you find you need to improve upon? What did you learn?
This article was originally published on December 30, 2017 and has been updated.