Countdown to Preparedness – A Resource for Beginners and Seasoned Preppers Alike

From time to time I talk to people who don’t know much about preparedness. They know they should do something, but what? Where to start? I feel better about our conversation if I can recommend a resource or two which gives helpful info.

One such resource is Jim Cobb’s book called Countdown to Preparedness. It’s a resource for beginners and seasoned preppers alike. The subtitle says, this is “The Prepper’s 52-Week Course to Total Disaster Readiness.” Jim covers the basics all of us need to know and do, whether you’re a newbie or an old hand at prepping.

In the wide variety of topics he covers, you’ll find things you probably haven’t thought of. Weekly tasks or projects are manageable, and they’ll help you eat that daunting preparedness elephant one bite at a time.

Jim was my guest on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio. He’s been on several times before to talk about his other books. In case you’re not familiar with who he is…

Jim Cobb has worked in the investigation and security fields for twenty years and has been a survivalist most of his life. His articles on preparedness have been published in national magazines such as Boys’ Life. You can find him online at Jim lives in the upper Midwest with his beautiful wife and their three adolescent weapons of mass destruction.


Countdown to Preparedness


Countdown Beginnings

The material for this book came from a series Jim did online back in 2012. Remember when some of us anticipated major catastrophe then? The series was popular, and people wanted to see it in book form. Well, now it is.

While any prepper will benefit from this book, Jim says the newer you are to prepping, the more you’ll get out of it. I think this would be a great gift to intgroduce someone to preparedness.

Jim’s goal is to take his readers through the process of preparedness. It takes time and isn’t something that can be rushed. In fact, you’ll find yourself developing good habits along the way, such as setting aside a few dollars a week in a prepper savings account.

In the foreword, Mike Mullin, author of the Ashfall novels, writes that this is not a book of quick fixes. Those looking for quick fixes will be among the first to die. Jjim agrees and says that anything in life worth having is worth working toward. When it comes to prepping, it’s especially important to learn the skills that will help you survive.

Countdown Contents

In Countdown to Preparedness you’ll find a chapter for each week of the year. Those chapters are grouped in five sections. The first 10 chapters cover the basics, which is where everyone should begin. The remaining sections are labeled according to the four seasons.

Several activities in the seasonal sections should be done at the appropriate time of year. For example, you wouldn’t gather fire wood in the spring. And sales of grocery items during the various holidays offer great opportunities for stocking your survival pantry.

Information isn’t lumped together topically. For example, items pertaining to food storage and supplying your survival pantry are in chapters scattered throughout the book. That’s also the case with noteable subjects like self defense and communication. However, the index and Table of Contents will help you find your way around when you’re looking for specific subject matter.

Topics covered include…

  • Water filtration, purification and storage
  • Calculating food storage needs and supplying your pantry
  • Get home bags
  • Evacuation kits
  • Talking to your immediate family, including children
  • Earning extra income
  • First aid supplies and training
  • Prescription medicines and medical and dental issues
  • Sanitation and keeping clean
  • Pets
  • Gardening
  • Communications
  • Making fire
  • Firearms
  • Home security and self defense
  • Situational awareness
  • Alternate modes of transportation
  • Electricity and lighting
  • …and much more

Countdown Musings

Each chapter ends with practical tasks to do for the given week, which seem to me to be reasonable and reachable. For example, grocery suggestions for building your food storage supply are straightforward and not overwhelming. Buy three cans of vegetables, two cans of fruit, two cans of meat, etc.

A chapter near the beginning of the book is called “Out with the Old.” The idea is to do some house cleaning and get rid of the stuff you’re not using. You probably never will use it. It’s all about putting priorities in place and making space for the prepping supplies we need. We all accumulate too much, don’t we?

You’ll appreciate the chapters on talking to your family and children about prepping. In fact, the appendix includes info on bringing nonprepping family members into the fold. It involves offering a proposal to help acquire prepping supplies for them, but with their help.

Could that go the other way? Could family members store prepping supplies you buy for them to keep in the event you need to go there? Jim and I explored this possibility in our conversation.

A chapter on water storage is especially good at explaining how you might use Pool Shock to purify water.

In the chapter on alternative transportation, he recommends getting a bicycle. I’m glad to see this. While he mentions other means of transport, he makes the point that we’d better get used to doing a lot of walking, too.

The chapter on improvised weapons deals with being creative with common items you already have around the house. Aerosol cans with cleaners or bug spray, kitchen knives and cleavers, or a can of soda pop in an old tube sock may come in handy for self defense. You just never know.

In the chapter on ham radio, he recommends getting a license. And I appreciate his reasoning. I’d compare this matter to getting a license to drive a car. You need to have one to put the equipment to use properly. Then when the emergency comes, you’ll know what to do.

Jim recommends getting a hand crank radio for monitoring news from broadcast stations on AM and FM. I’ve got one myself, but I’d also say not to overlook battery powered radios. You’d be surprised how long batteries last in an inexpensive analog radio. And you have stocked up on batteries, haven’t you?

Countdown Questions

Here are a few more questions we touched on during our conversation.

  • What’s a waterbob?
  • If you buy supplies for your get home bag before you buy the bag itself, aren’t you tempted to buy more than your pack can hold?
  • What’s the difference between a get home or bug out bag and an evacuation kit?
  • Should someone new to firearms buy a long gun first or a handgun for concealed carry?
  • What does it mean to reduce your footprint? (Hint: This has nothing to do with reducing your mythical carbon footprint.)
  • When stockpiling items for bartering, should you buy things you don’t use, as well as items you do use?

Countdown Conclusions

As usual, Jim brings his common sense approach to what he shares. He’s always a great guest. He covers more in his book than we had time to discuss, and more than I can write about here.

If you’ve read Jim’s other books, you’re likely to see some overlap. But there’s no harm in repetition. It’s great for making ideas stick in the brain.

On the other hand, if you haven’t read his other books, you really should have this one, if for no other reason than that he introduces so many crucial subjects and interesting tidbits. We’re all learning, and seasoned preppers can pick up new ideas, too.

Find Out for Yourself

Hear my conversation with Jim Cobb by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for July 17, 2014. (Right click to download.) Buy your copy of Countdown to Preparedness when you click on its title wherever you see it linked in this post. That takes you to the page where it’s featured.

If you have questions about what you read in this book, Jim welcomes your e-mails at jim(at) Of course, replace (at) with @ in that e-mail address.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.