Emergency Preparedness Vs Lifesaving: A Full Comparison

Emergency Preparedness and Lifesaving are two of the most useful merit badges that you can earn in Scouting. When choosing one to complete for Eagle, it can be a challenge figuring out which to go with. I’ve outlined the pros and cons to each so that you can decide which badge is best for you.

Should I choose the Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving merit badge? The Lifesaving merit badge requires a variety of in-water demonstrations and will be ideal for Scouts with a strong swimming background. Most Scouts earn the Emergency Preparedness merit badge as the requirements are generally easier to complete. Both of these Eagle-required badges are typically earned by Scouts who are First Class or above.

Both of these badges have a few surprisingly difficult requirements that you should know about before getting started. In either choice, you’ll learn valuable skills which will leave you better prepared for disaster. Keep reading to see which merit badge will be right for you.

Emergency Preparedness VS Lifesaving : The Cons

Before starting any merit badge, you should be prepared to fully understand the requirements. Below, I’ve outlined the most difficult parts of earning each of these badges. Double-check that you can do each of these things within your troop in order to complete your badge.

Emergency Preparedness

  • First Aid Merit Badge (1)
  • Emergency Spreadsheet (2a)
  • Emergency Service Project (7)

The Emergency Preparedness merit badge requires that you’ve already obtained the first aid merit badge. You must also participate in an emergency service project with your troop and create an emergency spreadsheet.


  • Strong Swimming Skills (1)
  • CPR Certification (15b)
  • Need Pool Access (most)

To earn the Lifesaving merit badge, you must The CPR certified and demonstrate around 15 different skills within a body of water. You must be a strong swimmer with access to a pool and lifeguard to earn this badge.

*(#) is the badge requirement number and letter

Emergency Preparedness has a total of nine requirements while the Lifesaving badge has 17. Most of the EPrep requirements are knowledge-based and can be completed with the same type of research as the First Aid merit badge (if you haven’t yet earned First Aid, check out my complete guide here). Aside from the emergency service project which can be done within your troop, earning this badge should be fairly straightforward.

I would not recommend starting the Lifesaving merit badge unless you’re able to complete it during a Summer camp or with your troop. You’ll need to work with at least one buddy and a highly trained lifeguard for at least 3-4 hours to complete the water rescue requirements. You’re also required to be CPR certified and have passed the BSA swim test, along with some of the water safety requirements for Second and First Class.

Emergency Preparedness VS Lifesaving : The Pros

While these two badges may be a bit more difficult than most, they are still definitely worth your time. Personally, I earned both just because of how useful they are. I completed Emergency Preparedness by myself and worked on Lifesaving with my troop around the time I finished Scouting.

Lifesaving teaches you important skills for greater safety in the water. Emergency Preparedness helps you plan for emergencies in your own home. There are many pros to both of these badges, which is why you should see if any of the benefits are especially relevant to you.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Fast Knowledge Req’s
  • Home Preparation
  • Personal Emergency Plan

The Emergency Preparedness merit badge will give you a great guide for handling crisis in your own life. You’ll prepare for possible emergencies and create a plan for your own home and troop. The info requirements are quick and easy to complete.


  • Few Knowledge Req’s
  • Very Useful in Water
  • Taught as Troop

Outside of demonstrating skills, the Lifesaving badge only has a few knowledge requirements. This information can be very useful if you’re ever with friends in water. If the demonstrated skills are taught as a troop, this badge can be very easy to complete.

Emergency Preparedness is very practical, and can often be an easier merit badge to earn than Lifesaving for most Scouts. If you’ve already earned your First Aid merit badge, many of those skills overlap with what you’ll be learning in Eprep. Although it’s the most difficult requirement, creating a spreadsheet is a great way of learning how to prepare for the most common emergency situations at home or within your community.

As someone who spends a lot of time in the ocean, Lifesaving was a game-changer for me. By learning how to assist a drowning person and handle almost any emergency on the water, I now feel more secure knowing that I can take care of drowning friends if need be. If you can relate to this, I suggest you take Lifesaving if given the opportunity.

Conclusion: Emergency Preparedness or LifeSaving?

With these pros and cons in mind, I’d recommend every Scout earn their Emergency Preparedness merit badge before working on Lifesaving. From my experience, many scouts who start Lifesaving fail to complete the requirements due to difficulty reserving a place to demonstrate their water safety techniques. When choosing between Eagle-required badges, always work on the one that you’re certain you can complete in time.

On the other hand, if you do you have the opportunity to work on the Lifesaving merit badge within your troop or at a camp, I would highly recommend you do it! Skill demonstration aside, this is a relatively quick badge to earn. Moreover, lifesaving will teach you key water rescue skills which, I’ve found, you’ll be much more likely to use later in life.

Both Lifesaving and Emergency Preparedness are great merit badges and will help you to be much better prepared and confident. To see the ultimate guide to the Emergency Preparedness merit badge click here. Hopefully, now you know which badge will be best for you so that you can move one step closer to earning your Eagle!

Related Questions

Where Can I Find The Lifesaving Merit Badge Requirements?

You can download the requirements here and badge worksheet here

Where Can I Find The Emergency Preparedness Merit Badge Requirements?

You can download the requirements here and badge worksheet here

What Does Emergency Preparedness Plan Mean?

This plan would be your response in the case of an emergency. For example, part of a response plan for an earthquake would be to hide under a desk or door frame and avoid falling debris. Your plan should cover:

  • Prevention
  • Protection
  • Mitigation
  • Response
  • Recovery

You will create a response plan for different types of emergencies in requirement 2 of the Emergency Preparedness merit badge. This can be done in the form of a spreadsheet.

Are There Lifesaving Merit Badge Counselor Requirements?

“Demonstrations or activities in or on the water must be supervised by an adult at least 21 years old with certification in Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED or equivalent, and also as BSA Lifeguard or Aquatics Instructor or equivalent.”


Can You Earn Both Lifesaving and Emergency Preparedness?

Yes. While the first badge earned counts for the Eagle requirement, the second badge will be considered an elective merit badge. Both of these badges are very useful, so I would recommend earning both if given the option.


I'm constantly writing new content because I believe in Scouts like you! Thanks so much for reading, and for making our world a better place. Until next time, I'm wishing you all the best on your journey to Eagle and beyond!

Recent Content