When we look at the question of “what it means to be prepared” the universe can seem pretty large. You can pull at just about any string in that universe and a few days later look up to find yourself deep down the rabbit hole of some niche or obscure facet of preparedness. Then there are the adjacent or closely related topics (bushcraft comes to mind).

So the team here at AmCon HQ as spent hundreds of hours and conferred with dozens of experts (some of which are Members also!) to develop the Critical Categories of Preparedness. We believe that these categories represent the core of what everyone should know if they intend to be or become more self-reliant. It is not the do-all / end-all list. Certainly in your situation and circumstances you may modify the list to tailor it to fit your needs. (BTW, if you do this…we’d love to see your list in the comments!)

Why Have the List

For the HQ team, identifying, curating, and delivering quality training support and materials is paramount. It is one of the most basic functions we provide to support the Member Network. To do so, we need some way to understand what you are most interested in and an organized way to deliver that training. Hence, the Critical Categories of Preparedness!

Food & Water

Without food and water the human body will die. With the average household in the United States having three days or less of food on hand and no way to store or purify water…ensuring you have the calories and the hydration necessary to keep yourself and you family safe is critical! Find out more about Food and Water preparedness.

Shelter & Warmth

Whether we’re talking about your house or a hasty shelter to get out of the elements, protecting yourself and staying alive begins with the ability to create shelter and maintain warmth!

Home & Family

The Home & Family category includes all aspects of building and maintaining your “home base” but also includes many aspects of family life, including how to teach your kids about being prepared.

Security & Defense

Criminals love crisis and confusion. They will try to take advantage of the chaos while the established law enforcement tends to the first order effects of the event. YOU will likely be left to provide for your own security and self-defense for some period of time.

Health & Medical

The Health & Medical category cover both critical care aspects AND improving / maintaining your current health. Understanding how general health needs will differ under austere conditions. How to triage injuries and provide emergency medical care. How to maintain your mental health during high-stress circumstances.

Mobility & Response

Most of us take for granted the ability to hop in the car and go wherever we want, whether it’s to visit with family and friends or make a quick run to the grocery store. But what would happen if you couldn’t do that. Maybe trees are knocked down by a store, or the power is out, you’re out of gas and the pumps aren’t working. Mobility and Response is all about how to ensure you maintain the ability to move during life’s critical circumstances!

Income & Economics

Income and Economics is something that is often overlooked in the preparedness community. It’s a lot more fun to talk about vehicle mods or the latest gadget acquisitions…but how do you fund your preparedness? How do you buy the emergency food, space blankets, or afford to engage in paid training? We also need to maintain some situational awareness of the economy as a whole. Many people were caught off-guard when the housing crisis hit in the early 2000’s while others could see it coming.

Situational Awareness

Some people just seem to have that sixth sense about what will happen next. Do you believe they are born with that ability or it is something they learned / developed? Either way, you need to develop the tools and relationships TODAY that will allow you to be in the know when things turn sour. You hear those tornado warning sirens…? Is it for your neighborhood? How will you find out?


The ability to communicate is critical to sustaining all other aspects we’ve talked about on this page. How will you call for medical help if the cell network is down? How will you connect with friends and family? What about coordinating security and defense with your neighborhood watch team? Everything depends on communication!