Prepper Questions & Answers

Bev Sandlin

Earlier this month I did an interview for and I asked 4 of the questions of SCP members. Some people answered in the comments, but Ronnie and Craig answered me via email. Here are the responses collected into one post with my interview at the end:


What is 1 tip or skill every prepper needs and why? Good at improvising

– What is 1 tip or skill you wish you had starting out and why? Medicalmachete

– How important is mindset in survival? Without mindset you will not survive.

-What’s the biggest challenge NEW preppers face? Having time to learn and practice your skill.

– What do most preppers think will be easy, but discover isn’t? Protecting what you have, thinking your fellow preppers think the same way you do, you read a book on something: I can do that.

– If you could have only one item to survive off-the-grid, what would it be and why? It’s impossible to survive with only one item, but if you’re allowed to accumulate other items as you find them my first item of choice would be a small machete, and this could change depending on where you live. Having a machete I can make tools, I can make fire, animal traps, shelter and  self-defense weapons, but I still need something made out of metal to boil water.


– What is 1 tip or skill every prepper needs and why?

knifeSelf control – the most needed skill. You need to understand what is happening, resist the urge to panic and not fly off the handle in some random direction.

– What is 1 tip or skill you wish you had starting out and why?

Use of hand tools. It took some time, practice and perseverance to use the old fashioned hand tools with the same results as more modern power tools.

– How important is mindset in survival?

Mindset is everything. The determination and will to survive, as much as the recognition of stress and how to overcome it, give you the best chances against whatever you face.

-What’s the biggest challenge NEW preppers face?

The temptation to throw money at prepping, and not really think about what you really need and how you may provide for the needs, rather than the wants and ‘nice to haves’.

– What do most preppers think will be easy, but discover isn’t?

Planning ahead. It seems there is never any end to planning ahead, changing what you are concerned about, planning courses of action and response. Until you wear yourself out. Only to realize that planning for something is better than relying on others. You just have to do it.

– If you could have only one item to survive off-the-grid, what would it be and why?

A good knife. Strong, heavy and durable. You can build shelter if needed, dig if necessary, make tools, spears, bows and arrows. Make traps and snares. Cut spoons and bowls from raw wood. Split wood, make kindling, cut and shape fire starting materials. It is also a weapon of last resort, against 4 legged or 2 legged predators.


One skill: how to start a fire multiple ways……fire allows you to boil water, cook food, stay axewarm, protection from wild animals, make tools……

One tip/skill: wish I had better organization skills, seems like I wasted a lot of time and effort when I started.

Mindset: very important……the mind leads the body follows.

Biggest challenge: wading through the vast amount of info on the internet and pulling out what applies and works for your situation.

Not as easy as it looks: gardening

One item: a good ax


My tip: Look back through your family’s history as far as you can and identify the key things they might have improved if they had hindsight when they were in a SHTF situation. In my dollarsfamily it was financial prudence – not just living within their income but putting together a financial plan which would get them through disasters of new life (children coming unexpectedly at a difficult time), death of a spouse, unemployment, sickness, etc.

Mindset is all important from surviving concentration camps (See book by Victor Frankl) to coping with financial issues from unemployment.

Biggest challenge: Getting overwhelmed and focusing on the accumulation of stuff rather than skills and mindset.

What do most preppers think will be easy, but discover isn’t? Getting finances in order.

One item to survive off grid – appropriate accommodation – I need to be warm enough but not too hot.


My Interview with

Beverly Sandlin is my name. I am not hiding behind a pseudonym. And I am Executive Editor of

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself — how you got started, why you built a website, anything you’d like us to know. is a sister site to John Rourke’s Rourke created the site after a number of older people on MSO asked for it, but it languished with few contributions.

    I was very interested in acquiring a Deadwood Rocket Stove and wrote several articles for one of MSO’s writing contests. I think the winner was the “Hog Butchering” one. :-D Rourke approached me because of my homesteading background about helping out with SCP, I accepted and became Executive Editor of the site in 2012. I created this mission statement that defines the site:A web-based community focused on a self-reliant, preparedness lifestyle. Seasoned Citizen Prepper is a site devoted to the older prepper that believes in prudent, practical preparedness. Self-reliance, frugal living, and faith are the cornerstones of this site. Our goal is to facilitate sharing of knowledge among our subscribers in order to build a sense of community.”I remember my great-grandparent’s farm where they lived without electricity into the late ’60s – a ram pump to move water up to the house, cistern when the spring would dry up, woodstove to cook on and heat with, oil lamps for light, butchering, preserving meat and vegetables, a large garden that kept them fed, making whiskey, and a varying cash crop and a few milk cows to pay the taxes and whatever they needed in town.

  2. And I have homesteaded most of my life in the mountains of Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Kentucky and then ended up back in the bluff country of southeastern Minnesota where I built my own home and raised my kids after a divorce. I have lived off-grid enough to appreciate being on the grid!

    Anyone who homesteads knows that winter is coming, fire, floods, crop failure, disease, etc. can happen, you can’t afford to go out and buy yourself out of a situation, so you make do. Homesteading IS being prepared and surviving however you can by your own efforts.

    So, my personal SHTF came when I had a couple of strokes, ended up disabled, my home burned, I was living in the barn, lost my place to a crooked contractor and ended up on a small homestead (3 acres) in a small town in southeast Minnesota far away from family and friends. I was isolated and alone…

    The internet is a wonderful way to learn and communicate. Writing for SCP has been theraputic for me and given me back some confidence and a feeling of self-worth in that I can still contribute something – knowledge. Plus I love learning, experimenting and sharing. With SCP I get to share a bit of what I know and encourage and help others to share their knowledge as well.

  1. What are the top 3 articles on your site?




I don’t think it is so much about individual articles as it is about a general direction that the site is taking over time. We have a lot of articles focused on alternatives to mainstream medicine and health. Gardening the “easier, softer way” as we are aging. And sharing about all aspects of self-reliance with an open forum every Sunday where everyone is invited to comment on what they have done that week to become more self-reliant – I personally do not believe that anyone can be totally self-sufficient, but that is a whole discussion in itself.

  1. What is 1 tip or skill every prepper needs and why?campfire

    How to make fire and keep it going! Fire is essential to keeping warm, cooking, preserving food, light, defense, communication – civilization… If you can’t make fire, you can’t survive. Now, that said, a Bic lighter or box of matches is all you need to start a fire – keeping it going safely is the trick.

  1. What is 1 tip or skill you wish you had starting out and why?

    I’m going to answer this question just from a preparedness perspective: Define what you are preparing for. There is no way that you can prepare for every eventuality, especially when you are starting out.

    With that in mind your priorities are basically:

    Air – 3 minutes without air and you are dead.

    Water – 3 days without water and you are dead. Contaminated water and you will be dead within a week.

    Food – 30 days without food and you will either be dead or so depleted of energy that you are a target for predators (including human predators) and disease.

    When I first started reading about preparedness in 2010 on various websites, it seemed so many were doing “the sky is falling” scare tactics that either I was overwhelmed by everything that could happen or just left with the feeling that no matter how much I prepared it just wouldn’t be enough, so why try? About six months into it I realized, “Well this really isn’t that big of a deal. I’ve already lived without electricity, shot and butchered my own food, defended my home and children from intruders, know how to garden and do (every year has different challenges though), have a significant pantry and have put a bit of money back.”

    My personal preparedness now focuses on “everyday” emergencies – power failure, home evacuation due too… natural gas problems, hazardous waste spills, warehouse fires, criminal in the neighborhood (You can watch these all play out somewhere in the U.S. on a daily basis.), city water supply is contaminated, etc., etc.

  1. How important is mindset in survival?

    Mindset IS the difference between surviving and not surviving. A self-reliant, productive mindset that focuses on growth through learning and experimenting, flexibility and adaptability is critical to survival. Just take a look at what Wiki has to say about mindset here:

    That said, trust me, I get scared and make poor decisions too. Like in the flood of 2007 and the hill behind the house collapsed into the house with a huge maple tree leaning to come down on it that I could only see through lightning strikes, as we got 17 inches of rain overnight. Stupid me, I jumped in the car and sped to my mother’s house that is on high ground. It was raining so hard that I could not see that the road was flooded and my car actually floated in spots as I went over a flooded bridge. The next morning I found out that another bridge had collapsed within 10 minutes of my going over it – I couldn’t have seen that it was even out in that rainstorm. There was no power and this whole area was declared a disaster area – looting, National Guard called in, the whole shebang!

  1. What’s the most common question visitors to your site ask (what’s your answer)?

    “Where do I start?!”

    It is always the same answer, water, food security, defense and then go from there according to what you personally are preparing to survive – Power outage in winter? Tornado? Hurricane? Loss of a job? Loss of a spouse? Loss of a home? Nuclear war? Pandemic? Financial collapse of the world’s economy? An EMP? A sun flare that frys all electrical grids on one side of the globe? Alien invasion? The Rapture?

  1. What’s the biggest challenge NEW preppers face?

    food pantryPRIORITIES!!!

    Assuming you can breathe your air. Start with a water filter/stored water, then move to food storage – a minimum of a 3 month pantry. While you are building your preparedness food storage, do some serious thinking on what you are preparing for, why, and how best to allocate your resources.

    Don’t go out and buy an AR15 when you only have a week’s worth of groceries in the house! If you do that, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. How self-reliant can you be if you have no water or food in an emergency situation – can’t eat that gun!

  1. What do most preppers think will be easy, but discover isn’t?

    A. Prioritizing your preparedness purchases effectively.

    There is so much that you need when you first start out that it is overwhelming! I’ve seen a lot of “should have” lists and always feel unprepared and inadequate. It can almost stop you from starting to prepare! Just start with how to be self-reliant for 72 hours, then 1 week, then 1 month, etc. DON’T give in to that “pretty little knife” that you just have to have…

    B. Organizing your pantry and supplies and rotating them regularly.

    Finding space for your pantry and supplies and having them organized and handy is hard, much less figuring out how to rotate everything on a regular basis. Store what you use and use what you store. I try to rotate perishables on the twice yearly time changes along with updating my bug-out bags, etc. to the current season.

    C. Controlling your personal emotions in an emergency situation.

    Good luck! I get scared. I get overwhelmed. I am perfectly capable of making foolish, life threatening decisions. Then again, I can make those oh-so-hard decisions not to waste resources and that beautiful black and white filly that broke her leg can become dinner. Maybe that is why some people hesitate at a dinner invitation! LOL :-D

  1. If you could have only one item to survive off-the-grid, what would it be and why?bic

    A case of Bic lighters – Bic is simply the most reliable lighter out there. Why? Gotta make fire! :-D

  1. What are the unique or special features of your site, and what’s coming up in the future?

    What is unique about SCP is that we are an overtly Christian site. We don’t push it, we don’t flaunt it, we ALL simply understand that we worship the same God in our own way. FAITH is a cornerstone of our site.

    I think we are also unique in that our content isn’t made up of a lot of reposts from other sites. In fact, I do not visit any other sites, even our sister site, on a regular basis. Our content is unique to SCP. I think that is why so many of the other preparedness sites visit us for ideas and repost our content.

    What’s coming up? More self-reliance, frugality, homesteading, health, preparedness, and spirituality to get us through the hardtimes.

What’s the best resource (product, information, training, section of your site, etc.) you offer our community and where/how can they get it?

Yes, we have downloads. Yes, we have tons of information on the site – just do a search for almost anything your heart desires to know about preparedness. But the most important “thing” we offer IS community. A community of self-reliant INDIVIDUALS who are sharing their experience, their strengths, and their hopes for a safer, more secure future. You can’t get that by dropping into SCP and checking out a few articles or downloading a few resources. Our strength is BEING a community. And we invite newcomers to share their strengths, experience and hope for the future.

That said, we also talk about building community where we are living now. Getting to know our neighbors. Survival is not about the lone wolf taking what he needs or the self-sufficient individual not caring about anyone but himself. Civilization has taught us that we need one another. A community is more likely to survive than any one individual, couple or family.

So, how do we open up a conversation with our family members, friends, and neighbors about preparedness without sounding like a crazy person? Answers are relative to who we are and who they are, but community building is a regular discussion topic on SCP.



© 2014 – 2016, Seasoned Citizen Prepper. All rights reserved. On republishing this post you must provide link to original post.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email