Camping & Survival

The Essential Preppers Guide to The First 24

Disaster scenarios

When talking about the first 24, preppers mean the first 24 hours immediately following an emergency. The first 24 are spent hunkering down at home, getting out of town and arriving to a safe destination or spending overnight in the elements. The most important things you need in the first 24 hours are water, fire and shelter. Food is not a necessity in the first 24. You will not die of starvation within 24 hours. People can live up to three weeks without eating. However, you could die of exposure.

Graphic shows nine different disasters
So many bad things can happen. Be ready.

To survive the first 24, regardless of the situation, I borrow from survivalist Dave Canterbury’s Ten C’s of survival. The first four are the most important; a cutting device, combustion, cover and container.

Cutting device

Dave recommends a knife with a 5-inch fixed full tang blade. This size allows you to perform a variety of tasks without being unwieldy to use. I like the SaberCut from Ultimate Survival Technologies because of its affordability and cordage wrapped around the handle.


For warmth, signaling and to boil water, you will need to start a fire. Carry a waterproof lighter or matches, or a fire starter. The Zippo emergency fire starter kit includes its own tinder.


Emergency blankets and shelters fold up compactly in your pack and maximize heat retention so you stay warm. In addition, the shiny reflective material can double as a signaling device.


You need a container to collect and hold water. A metal container or canteen is ideal so you can put it directly on the fire to boil water. I also suggest adding a water purifying straw. I recommend Coghlan’s Jumbo Sierra Cup is made of metal with a stay-cool rim and will hold two cups.

For more on surviving the first 24, here are the top 10 essential guides:

If you missed our Essential Preppers Guide to Building a Bug-Out Bag, you can read it here.

What do you have in your pocket or bag right now that will get you through the first 24? Share it with us in the comment section.


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Comments (5)

  1. Someone makes tents that pop open when you slam them on the ground. If your in it it won’t blow away I hope. Other wise get a tent that opens on the back of your SUV or Van then folds up inside when not in use. Check Amazon or an truck accessorie company. They have everything.

    1. I’ve had both and both are very useful in their own way. I used to own an early version of the “pop tent.” It had an elastic strap to hold it together. Getting it folded back up took some practice. And it wasn’t compact when folded. But set up took no time or skill, just remove the elastic strap and drop it. It was also easy to relocate if you found an annoying root or rock poking up, just pick it up and move it. I currently own a tent for my pickup truck. It’s great for several reasons. It is up off the ground, so you don’t have to stoop down, crawl on the ground; you don’t have to search for a flat spot, large enough for the tent footprint; you won’t have to clear debris that might damage tent floor, like roots, plants, tree limbs, rocks; no stakes to deal with, so no pounding them in, pulling them out, cleaning them of dirt/mud, bending/breaking them on underground rocks, etc.; people who are afraid of wildlife nosing around the tent will feel safer surrounded by the body of the vehicle; depending on your vehicle, you may have some access to the vehicles interior, so you can run a power cord, store your gear within easy reach, use the interior lights, etc. In my case, the rain fly of my tent extended out over the sides of the bed and prevented rain from getting under the tent. On two occasions that I’ve used it there was a heavy downpour that lasted several hours. I didn’t have any leaks either time, which pleasantly surprised me. Over my life, I’ve slept in more than one tent that had a small leak somewhere.

  2. Is there a two-person, all weather, emergency-use tent(s) that you might recommend that can be set up where there is no option to sink stakes into the ground?

    1. The “pop tent” style doesn’t need stakes to stand up. But they are not compact by any means. If you are bugging out by vehicle, it would not be a problem. But trying to carry one while walking, for example, would be difficult.

  3. Steel Wool and a 9vt battery to shart a hot fire + squeeze bottle lighter fluid. Wire ties–carry a lot, no weight. Space blankit carry in pocket, no weight–big blue heavy-duty trash bags as Poncho–Roll of duct tape–Shall I go on. Small Zip lock bag of saw dust and Mesquite wood chips. Piece of folded 4 times heavy duty aluminum foil as heat reflector–no weight. Everything lays flat and fits in cargo pocket. Fold up flat plastic water bottle, lays flat, no weight. Of course , this is no good unless you already have it to go when you need it. Can of Sterno. Or make sterno like stuff with miracle grow, a small tin and piece of wire gauze. Collect water by condensation with Zip Lock bag and small glass jar like for pomentos.

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