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12 Survival Life Hacks:

Life Hacks

 You Won’t Believe Some of These!

Some people seem to think they only need one tool, a super-secret hideout or the right weapon to survive anything. The most important common attribute of those who will survive just about anything is creative thinking. If you are in a true survival situation, you won’t be able to walk into the grocery store or hardware shop and get what you need. You need to learn how to work many different materials to create items you need.

1. Getting your food into airtight packaging can be difficult. The bags that rice and beans come in can easily tear, reducing how long your food will last. You can transfer dry goods into 2-liter pop bottles. These bottles have an air-tight seal and have thick plastic. If you don’t drink soda, then ask your family and friends to save these for you.

2. If you need an AA battery, but all you have are AAA, you can use those smaller batteries. All you need to do is use a small ball of aluminum foil to fill the gap in the battery compartment. This can really be helpful when you need your weather radio or flashlight.

3. If you have kids, chances are there are crayons lying around your home. These make terrific emergency candles and you can melt the other end a little so it can be stuck to a piece of cardboard.

4. A can of Crisco only needs a wick to become a candle. A large can of Crisco will last 30 days burning continuously.

5. If you can’t find any dry tinder with which to start your fire, any snack chips like Doritos will work. They are highly flammable, but you’ll need to decide if the calories from the chips are needed more than fire.

6. An air compressor is not something that most people carry in their vehicle, so repairing a flat tire is not possible. However, a short-term solution is to cut some small holes in sidewall and fill it up with grass until the tire is relatively firm. You will need to replace your tire, as there is no repair for this temporary fix, but it should allow you to reach your destination as long as it’s not hundreds of miles away.

7. Instead of putting that headlamp on your head and blinding everyone, attach it to a gallon of water. The translucency of the water dispels the light through it, creating an area light like a lantern does instead of a flashlight-type beam.

8. For a fishhook, use the pop-tab on a soda can. Simply use your Leatherman to clip away a piece of the metal and file the remaining piece to a point. Attach your line to the other end and you have a no-frills fishhook.

9. Having to eat crappy food can make getting sufficient caloric intake difficult. No one says that you have to eat food without any seasoning in it. Those little Tic Tac containers are great for filling up with various spices to make your emergency food supplies a bit more palatable.

10. Keep a container of cayenne pepper with you when you’re having to sleep out under the stars. Sprinkle a line of it around your sleeping bag and bugs won’t cross it.

11. Keeping your toilet paper dry can be a problem in some areas. One way to do so is to use a large plastic coffee can. Cut a slit in the side of the can to pull the TP through and you can attach a wire at the top and the bottom to use as a handle.

12. A great arrowhead can be made from ordinary keys. Mark the key head to the shape of an arrow point. Cut the unneeded part of the key off with a hacksaw. Use a file to create a sharp edge on each side and the tip. Then mount the arrow to a shaft. These will easily penetrate animal hide and skin, so only take your test shots on non-living targets.

There you have it. A dozen hacks that can be very useful in any survival situation. There are dozens more out there, but it’s best to test some of the more complicated ones to make sure the results are what you are hoping for. In a survival situation, sometimes it just takes creativity to solve a problem.

What Urban Families Should Know About Preparing for Natural Calamities

crowd panicking in city It stands to reason that people who live in sparsely populated regions have an advantage over those who live in more crowded areas in the event of any natural calamity or disaster. The sheer population density found in cities greatly increases the risk of injury during the actual event, as well as the threat from violence in the ensuing aftermath. In addition, the presence of more people means that there will be more competition for any resources that are available and necessary for survival, such as food, water and medical care. However, not everyone has the luxury or even the desire to be able to make their home in a rural area, even if it might prove to be safer.  This week, our doomsday prep focus will be on the urban family and the things they can do to prepare themselves to survive and thrive should some type of natural calamity, terrorist attack or other disaster event take place.

Have a Backup Location

The recommendation to have a backup location may sound strange in a segment about prepping for the urban family, but actually, it is probably one of the most important preparations that an urban family can make. Unless you happen to live in a very rare urban area where you can depend upon having access to potable water, food and safe shelter, your family’s health and survival will depend upon getting to a less populated area, and doing so as soon as possible after the initial event.

The question of where you should go will depend upon your actual situation and what is available near you. It could be the home or farm of a friend or family member, uninhabited wilderness areas, state or national parkland or any area where you will be able to be safely hunker down and regroup.<


When choosing the best location for your family, consider the following factors:

  • Depending on the size of the city where you live, look for a backup location that is at least a full tank of gas away from your urban area. This is because most people have less than a full tank of gas on hand at any time, and many have less than a half-tank. In the hours and days after a natural calamity or disaster, those that flee cities will likely be stranded once their vehicles run out of gas and you will want your backup location to be well outside this range. In order to make this work, you must begin now to ensure that your car’s tank is topped off frequently and learn to keep and rotate some additional containers of gas, if at all possible.
  • When scouting for the best location, look for one with access to a water source that is either potable or can be filtered, such as fresh water rivers, creeks, springs and lakes. In addition, look for an area that offers the best possible potential for food, such as an area where you can hunt, fish, garden or forage easily.
  • Make sure that the backup location you choose provides shelter in an area that is well away from major travel routes and roadways that are likely to be used by those also fleeing from the areas hardest hit by the natural calamity or disaster.
  • Lastly, determine at least three potential routes to get to the property and practice them often so that you will be able to pack quickly and easily make your way to safety when each second becomes critical.

Prepare for System & Supply Outages

In the event of a natural calamity or disaster, urban families will likely be impacted faster and more severely than those who live in a sparsely populated area. One reason for this is that urban apartments, condos and homes are typically smaller and lack abundant storage space for doomsday prep supplies and gear.

Even when living in small spaces, however, it is important that you prepare for system and supply outages to enhance your chances of staying safe in an extremely chaotic situation. Some suggestions for this include:

  • Keeping a supply of cash on hand to help you purchase fuel or food when ATMs, credit cards and paper or electronic checks are not being accepted. Make sure that the amount of cash you keep is ample enough to purchase food, fuel and water for at least several days and keep this cash in a secure, but easy to access location. DO NOT keep it in a bank account or safety deposit box as it may not be accessible to you when needed during a crisis.
  • Keep the gas tank full on each vehicle, as well as an extra can or two of gas, if you have a garage or other secure outdoor space to store them. If you cannot store gas safely where you currently live, keep some empty gas cans in the trunk of your car and fill them at the earliest opportunity after a natural calamity or disaster event.
  • Even though you will be leaving for your backup location quickly, make sure that even the smallest apartment is stocked with at least 30 days of water for each person who lives there. According to FEMA guidelines, you should stock one gallon of water per person, per day. If you cannot store enough water, make sure that you have some good quality personal water purification supplies on hand that will allow you to use most any available water source, such as water in the toilet tank, hot water heater or collected rainwater.
  • Stocking thirty days of food can be done in relatively little space by purchasing five gallon buckets of dry beans and rice and supplementing them with canned tunas, powdered milk, eggs and cheese and dehydrated fruits and vegetables. With careful planning, a family of four can store a month of food in a small closet or in bins under a bed.
  • Outfitting each family member with fully stocked bug out bags and having a small “get home bag” to be carried daily by each family member. Fully stocked bugout bags, complete with all the items needed for survival in an emergency can be purchased ready to use, or assembled from household supplies. In addition, make sure that all family members carry a small “get home” bag or pack in their cars, purses, backpacks or briefcase, with basic necessities such as a bottle of water, a few energy bars, a small flashlight and a small knife.

By having cash, fuel and basic food and water storage on hand, you will be able to keep your family safe without venturing into dangerous situations, such as the unruly crowds that are likely to form near grocery stores, banks and gas stations after a natural calamity or disaster. In addition, you will have supplies that can quickly and easily be loaded into the car before heading to your backup location to improve your chances of survival.

In the next segment, we will take an in-depth look at food security during a natural calamity or disaster event, including specific information to ensure that both nutritional and caloric needs are met. In addition, we will look at specific storage issues for these foods and how you can safely and easily manage long-term storage for this food. 

What Your Perfect Cabin Needs

Isolated Cabin on Mountain

Nothing beats a cabin when you have to leave society behind. A cabin is remote, comfortable, and able to protect you against the elements. It’s the perfect place to go when you don’t need all of the bells and whistles in your residence—like crown molding, plasma TVs and granite countertops—but when you need a rustic, dependable place to live.

In short, if everything breaks down, you want to have a cabin where you can settle in. It needs to be stocked and ready to go at a moment’s notice. So, what does your perfect cabin need?

A Remote Location

It has to be remote. Don’t buy anything within a few miles of town. Don’t buy a cabin on a lake with another cabin every 50 feet. Some would say you shouldn’t even buy anything with a paved road leading to it.

Think about it: You’re trying to hide out from something. It could be a pandemic, it could be a revolution, it could be an invasion. These things have happened time and again over the course of human history, and they’re going to keep happening. The people who fare the worst are always the ones in the cities. They’re easier to find and more susceptible to danger. Don’t be one of them. You want your cabin as far from everyone else as you can get, and you don’t want anyone to know where it is.

The Ability to Function Off the Grid

If you need to head to the cabin, the grid is gone. Plan for it. You’re not going to have cellphone s

ervice. You’re not going to have water and sewage services. You’re not going to have electricity or someone who can drop off propane tanks. This thing has to work for you when you’re all alone and you have nothing. Everything else is just a bonus.

A lot of people forget this when building a cabin. It feels secluded and secure, but the heat is all propane based. They stockpile propane so that they’re ready, but how long is that going to last? A few months, a few years? You don’t want a timetable like that, where your cabin is useless when time runs out. You need things like a wood-burning stove, solar panels for electricity, and a water filtration system. You need to be able to go to the cabin with nothing and live there indefinitely. Plan it as though the grid is already down.

Plenty of Storage

Cabins are often very small. When planning yours, make sure you plan for plenty of storage. You need far more food than you probably think. You need canned goods and salted food and water and things that will last.

There are other ways to get food, and you’re going to have to address them eventually. You need to know how to farm, how to hunt for animals. Your stored food isn’t going to last forever. But it does need to last for as long as possible, so that you’re not entirely reliant on finding food. If you have nothing and whether or not you eat tonight depends on your ability to shoot a deer, do you really feel that good about it?

Plus, some situations don’t last forever. Wars end, diseases burn themselves out. You may only need to live in the cabin for a year or so before it’s safe to come out. Plan so that you have plenty of food storage and you can make it through.


This depends on where you live. If you’re in a cold-weather state, though, be sure you have as much insulation as possible so that the cabin stays warm and livable in all weather conditions. Many older cabins, like the ones they built on the American frontier, were not insulated at all. That requires a tremendous amount of energy to heat, though, and there’s a reason the settlers often did better in the south than the north. Know your location, your seasons, and plan for them.

If you can pick any location, experts suggest going somewhere with a moderate temperature. You don’t want it to be 120 degrees in the summer, and you also don’t want it to be 20 below in the winter. Either one can kill you. Find something that is in the middle and build your cabin there. This has the added benefit of extending your growing season when you start farming.

A Water Source

Water is another thing that people often take for granted in the modern day. Any home you go to in the United States has water as soon as you turn on the tap. Your cabin needs to have a water source.

Digging your own well isn’t the worst thing you can do. Many cabins run off of their own wells for years, and it may last your entire life. However, considering the equipment used to dig modern wells, this isn’t something you can probably do if you start having issues with it. You may be wise to find a water source like a river or a stream, which provides water without any work on your part. You will need to boil that water to use it, to make sure it’s safe, but this is how people survived for hundreds of thousands of years. There’s a reason most major cities are built on water sources.


Again, it depends what you’re trying to get away from, but security may be incredibly important in the event of a civil war or a revolution—two things that often feel far more likely than most people like to admit. You need a cabin that is safe, that is hidden, and that you can defend. Build it with that in mind.

Hiding it may be the most important step. People have build cabins in the midst of a dense forest or in the side of a hill. Some have even built underground bunkers that can’t be detected from the surface. A cabin that is right out in the open could put you in serious danger, no matter how well stocked it is or how well it’s built. At the very least, find a place without roads and heavy traffic lanes, where people are less likely to stumble upon you.

Water Sources, Purification and Filtering

Humans can only live three or four days without water. When you’re in a survival situation and you find water, you have to address two concerns. First, is the water drinkable? Second, if the water isn’t drinkable, how to you make it so that you can drink it safely?

Two decades ago, you could find drinkable water from streams, lakes and rivers in the north. However, Giardia has spread in recent years, which has greatly increased the risks of drinking water right from a stream, lake or river.

Giardia is an organism that can infect your digestive tract. It can be seriously debilitating, and researchers once believed it was spread through beaver droppings. Unfortunately, recent research has shown that there are other animals that spread it, too.

Pollutants such as those from chemicals or industrial usage can also be dangerous if ingested through contaminated water. This is more common than it was a few decades ago.

Below, you’ll find some tips for assessing the purity of your water and how to purify it when needed.

Assessing the Purity of Your Water Source

Here are some quick rules for assessing water purity. Each situation, though, will have its own unique factors:
• Look for clear water.
• Remember that running water is usually better than still water.
• Water that is coming out of the ground, such as that from a spring, is generally more pure than water running over the ground.
• Avoid water with algae growing in it.
• Avoid water in swamps or marshes.
• Avoid water near roads, as the pollutants from cars don’t all go up in the air.
• Avoid water that flows downriver of cities, towns, industries, mining sites or factories.
• Avoid water that flows from agricultural lands, as this may contain pesticides or fertilizers.

Purifying Water

The best way to purify water is to boil it. This gets rid of the bacteria and microbes. However, not everyone agrees on how long water must be boiled to kill all of the microbes. Boil water for at least five minutes, but boiling water for 20 minutes will be the safest.

balling water over fire

Heat is obviously required for boiling water, so you’ll need a fire. You will also need a container of some sort. Using a container that you can put directly into the flames is best. However, if you don’t have one, you will need to proceed with rock boiling.

Rock boiling is the process of placing stones into a fire and heating them up. Once hot, you place into a container of water. The water heats up quickly as the heat transfers from the rocks to the water. Put enough rocks into the fire so that you can add the rocks to the water and it will start to boil. Boil for the minimum time listed above.

There are also several things you can add to water to purify it. For example, you can add chlorine dioxide tablets and water drops, AquaMira water treatment drops, or chlorine bleach. However, do not use scented bleaches or those that have added cleaners. Do not use pool chlorine, as this is much stronger than household bleach.

Another means of purifying water is to filter it. There are several types of filters that can be used, including water filters that are available commercially or those you create yourself. The commercial filters will remove most of the bacteria and other contaminants, including Giardia. However, if you don’t have one of these filters available, you can use one of the following methods:

1) Build a water filter from birch bark. While this will not filter out all of the bacteria or chemicals, this is a good choice for an emergency situation. Roll a large piece of birch bark into a funnel, leaving a hole at the bottom that is about the size of a penny. Place several small rocks in the bottom of the funnel, then fill the rest of the cone with alternating layers of sand, grass and charcoal.

2) Use the Earth to filter water. For this, you dig a well about two to four feet from the source of the water. Let the hole fill with water. While there are no guarantees, the water in the hole will be purer than the water source.

3) You can also remove some contaminants by using an item like a coffee filter or clean piece of clothing.

A Final Thought

Finding water only benefits you if you can drink it. Purifying your water is a must in many situations to avoid getting ill and ending up more dehydrated. If in doubt of your water’s purity, it’s best to bypass the source and look for another.

Your Options for Takedown Rifles

Nemesis Arms Vanquish

A takedown rifle is an excellent style of firearm that is easy to transport since it breaks down quickly into a number of separate parts. It can then be carried in a backpack or a briefcase, but you can get it out and assemble it in seconds. If you’re putting together a bag and a disaster kit, you absolutely want to have a takedown rifle as part of the kit. There is no handgun in the world—not even the vaunted .44 magnum—that can match everything a long rifle provides. A takedown rifle is nearly as easy to carry as a handgun, so you get the firearm you really want without compromising on space. Let’s look at some of your options.

The Nemesis Arms Vanquish

Let’s get this one out of the way first. It’s the king of takedown rifles, a military grade sniper rifle that gained a bit of fame when it was featured in The Bourne Legacy. That rifle that he pulls out of his backpack and sticks together while he’s on the run in the mountains isn’t some gadget they dreamed up for the film. It’s a real, world-class rifle that you can buy. It comes with interchangeable barrels in multiple calibers, so it’s really like buying a handful of excellent weapons at once. You can carry it in a backpack, like he does in the move, or in a briefcase.

Now the downside: The Vanquish is going to run you about $4,500. If you have that type of money to drop on a takedown rifle, go for it. This is the best one you can get. It’s handcrafted and immaculate. But, for most of us, it is overkill and eats up too much of the budget.

The AR-7 Survival Rifle

This rifle was originally developed for the military. Pilots would carry it so that, if they were shot down, they’d have at least a small firearm with them. It’s a .22 caliber rifle, so that’s far different than a combat weapon, but it’s better than not having a gun at all. The storage system for the gun is what makes it unique. The barrel and the receiver both break off of the stock. You can then take the plate off of the back of the stock and store the pieces in the stock itself. Replacing the plate keeps them safe and dry.

The upsides to a rifle like this are huge. It saves an incredible amount of space, so you can easily just drop one in your backpack and know it’s there if you need it. Plus, it’s cheap. You can get one at places like Cabela’s and Gander Mountain—typically thought of as over-priced stores—for around $250 to $280. And that’s brand new. You can do much better if you shop around a bit. In a lot of ways, even if you have a different firearm that’s your main one, it may not be a bad idea to have an AR-7 in your bag as a backup.

The Browning Lever Action 81

The BLR 81 is a traditional level-action rifle from a company known for making very nice hunting firearms. It looks a lot like Browning’s standard BLR, but the barrel can be taken off to reduce the rifle’s size. It’s a limited breakdown compared to the AR-7, but it does what it’s meant to do and makes the gun fit in a backpack. It’s also a fairly light rifle, but the quality is still quite high.

The upside to the BLR is that you can get it in many typical hunting calibers, like .270, 30-06, or 7mm Rem. Mag. You can also get it in .223. The BLR is reliable and well-made, and it’s as accurate as everything else Browning puts out, which is to say you can hammer the target from long distance with ease. You do have to pay for it, as it’s going to run from $1,000 to about $1,200, depending on which one you get. That is over the mark set for standard hunting rifles, like the Browning X-Bolt, which you can get for around $700. You’re paying the extra $400 for the takedown. That said, the BLR 81 is a legit hunting rifle, so you’re not stuck with something underpowered if you need a bigger round. If you want a takedown rifle and don’t want to compromise, this is a great option.

One downside is that Browning makes the gun with laminated wood. If you paid this much for a high-end X-Bolt—like the White Gold Medallion—you’d get solid wood with a beautiful finish. The laminated wood looks fine, but purists may feel like the quality is a bit under what they’d prefer in that regard.

The Covert Carry Kit

This isn’t a takedown rifle, per se, but a kit that turns (almost) any AR-15 into a takedown rifle. The AR platform is already versatile and lends itself to breakdowns, but this makes it even faster and more reliable. It also helps to ensure that your AR is accurate when you put it back together. The kit consists of a few different barrel nuts that have to be replaced, and you can do this yourself or have a gunsmith do it. It also comes with a fore-end tube, which you slide down over the barrel and use to tighten the nuts, screwing it down. The kit also comes with a black briefcase.

Basically, you break the gun down into three parts: the receiver, the barrel, and the tube. The first two snap together, the tube tightens down and forms the grip, and your rifle is ready to go. The case has room for both a magazine and an optic to stay mounted.

The upside here is that it works on just about every AR on the market, and it’s only $250 for the conversion kit. You can get a full 16-inch AR, like the Underground Tactical Bacon Maker, and have a takedown rifle for around $1,250. This can cost less if you simply buy a less expensive AR, so the price point—and quality—is up to you. For those who already own multiple ARs, this is a cheap and easy way to transform any of them.

Doomsday Prep on the Home Front: The Importance of Risk Awareness & Common Sense Defense Strategies

In past segments we have talked in general terms about what you can expect to occur after any type of natural calamity or disaster. We have stressed the need to be prepared for times when the public services and supply lines that we now take for granted become limited or completely unavailable to us. We have also touched on how to plan ahead to ensure your family’s safety, whether it be by grabbing a bug out bag and leaving the affected area or by sheltering in place with the survival supplies you have accumulated beforehand.

breaking inWe have even discussed the need for being discreet about any doomsday prep activities you engage in so that you will be less likely to become a target after an event occurs that is capable of causing society to unravel. Today, we will delve deeper into the physical safety aspect by discussing what you can do now to ensure your family’s physical safety in the aftermath of a natural calamity or other devastating event, including weaponry and how to mount an effective defense using common household items.

When Normal Becomes Abnormal

Increasingly prohibitive gun laws and societal trends have created an environment where many Americans no longer routinely keep a weapon in their home for personal safety reasons. Most feel that modern security systems coupled with local law enforcement are enough to keep them safe and in normal circumstances, that is considered to be an acceptable assumption.

In the event of a natural calamity or disaster capable of disrupting communications and the electrical grid, however, this assumption becomes invalid and dangerous. Countless homes and families who once felt secure and protected will suddenly be left with only the locks on their doors and their own self-defense capabilities for protection. Even worse, any situation that leaves your home without the protection of local law enforcement is likely to continue to devolve quickly and become even more dangerous in the hours and days afterward.

The Three Parts of Maintaining Physical Safety in a Newly Dangerous World

While your physical safety during a natural calamity event could definitely be threatened by the event itself, it is far more likely to be caused by the actions of another human being. Within days or even hours, hunger, thirst and fear can cause average, non-violent citizens to react aggressively toward others, especially in a situation where they feel they have nothing to lose.

In addition, some members of the population will take advantage of a disaster situation to engage in violent behaviors, including abuse, rape and murder when freed from the threat of the legal system. To give your family the optimum chance to survive and thrive during the aftermath of a disaster, the following three things will be required:

  • situational awareness to quickly recognize potential threats
  • an ability to avoid potentially risky situations
  • an ability to mount a defense when necessary


Developing a Baseline

Using situational awareness to enhance your physical safety begins with understanding what is normal and what isn’t. If you are planning to shelter in your home during a disaster event, begin now to observe your neighborhood and general area to determine what activity is normal and which people belong there. As you observe the daily happenings, you will soon develop a sort of instinctual baseline that will help you quickly identify suspicious activity or people who could present a potential threat to your family’s safety.

Avoid the Fray and the Fight, When Possible

While most people routinely prefer to avoid confrontation during the best of times, in a survival situation, keeping a low profile can be an excellent survival tactic. The looting and violence that were widespread after Hurricane Katrina and during the recent racially-motivated riots in Ferguson, Missouri are prime examples of the chaos that will certainly develop in the aftermath of a natural calamity scenario.

Families who plan to shelter in place during the days or weeks that follow a disaster event can adopt proactive practices that will help them keep a low profile and avoid attracting unwanted attention that could become violent. Some of these include:

  • staying away from crowded areas
  • venturing out only in groups or during the early morning hours when most are sleeping
  • concealing valuables or weapons when around others


Defending Your Family and Your Home

While purchasing guns and ammunition and becoming proficient with them is a valuable addition to any survival plan, there are now many areas of the country where restrictive gun laws have made this difficult or impossible to do. This is why all good doomsday prep plans should also include measures for defending the family with commonly available items. As you look around your home for potential weapons and strategies for defense, focus on items and ideas that can inflict a severe level of discomfort or fear that will cause most attackers to hesitate or flee. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • aerosol cans or bottles of harsh chemicals formulated to clean ovens, clear drains or kill insects can be as effective as pepper spray when sprayed or splashed into the face of an attacker
  • a hefty can of soup or vegetables knotted into the toe of a tube sock can create an effective handheld club to swing at an attacker
  • baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs and even mops and brooms are effective weapons to strike out at an opponent and force them to move away
  • garden implements, especially sharp-edged hoes and shovels can inflict serious pain on an attacker
  • lawn darts, ice picks and steak knives can be duct-taped to sturdy dowel rods or wooden stakes to create a weapon that can be used from outside the reach of an attacker

For close range attacks, common household tools and items such as scissors, razor blades, screwdrivers, wine corkscrews, keys and other small, sharp objects etc. make effective weapons that are readily available, yet easy to conceal in the home or in a pocket.


In addition to creating effective weapons, your ability to keep your family safe will likely be more successful if you have instituted some defensive measures and strategies to keep from attracting the attention of an unsavory person. These measures include:

  • staying indoors or within the area of a privacy-fenced backyard to avoid unwelcome attention
  • keeping shades and drapes pulled to keep others from seeing into your home
  • avoiding creating loud noises that attract attention

If the natural calamity or disaster event lasts more than a few days, you may also need to deter people from trying to gain access to your home. The following ideas can help you slow down or stop someone from successfully breeching the perimeter of your home.

  • barricade doors and windows that cannot be easily defended, such as basement windows, full-length glass doors, windows that can be reached from the ground and garage entrances
  • insert screws into window frames to prevent them being slid open from the outside
  • create nail strips by driving sharp nails through a piece of board and then placing it sharp side up on pathways and areas where a thief or attacker would likely step
  • string thin wire or fishing line tightly across entrances, exits and gates to create a barrier or tripwire effect

Becoming more aware of your surroundings and developing good strategies for defending your family and your home are important parts of becoming prepared to handle anything that may happen in the future. Even if a teotwawki scenario never occurs, many of the common sense ideas we have offered can be used in daily life to enhance the personal safety of the family you love.

In this installment we have focused mainly on keeping your family safe while sheltering in place after a natural calamity occurs. In the sixth installment we will focus on the special doomsday prep needs of an urban family who must be prepared to bug out quickly and head to their safe haven before total chaos erupts. 

Doomsday Prep – Dollar Store Buys

Dollar Store PhotoThe theme of the “dollar store” has become a recurring one. Now you can find a Dollar General, Family Dollar or Dollar Tree throughout cities and suburbia, as well as in rural communities. People like to get something for next to nothing and some items in these stores are actually worth the buck or two you’ll pay for them.
When you’re beginning to prepare, you may wonder how on earth you’re supposed to buy everything that’s needed to be ready to bug-out – or even bug-in. Maybe you want to make sure you’re prepared for any disaster or other emergency, but you don’t want to empty your bank account. There are many items that you can pick up at your local Dollar Tree that will be a great addition to your stockpile. Consider the following:

Emergency Items
• Rope, clothesline, twine, and cords: It’s almost a guarantee that no matter how much of this stuff you have
, it won’t be enough in a longer-term emergency.
• Vinyl table cloths, shower curtains, ponchos and tarps: These items can come in handy for keeping stuff dry outside.
• Duct tape: Need I say more?
• Glow stocks
• Clamps


Sanitation and Cleaning
• Soap and laundry detergent
• Bleach: Remember that bleach does not store for very long.
• Towels and rags: These items can always come in handy.
• Wet wipes: If you have children, you know the worth of wet wipes.
• Latex gloves: Disposable gloves and longer-use gloves can both be helpful.
• Sponges

• Baskets and bins: You might not have a use for a wide range of types and sizes right now, but you’re sure to find the need soon enough.
• Plastic baggies: The off-brand of these baggies might not be as good as the name brand ones, but it’s good to have various sizes.
• Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
• Canning jars and lids

Kitchen Supplies and Utensils
• Utensils that can be used for outdoor cooking
• An extra can opener
• Wooden spoons
• Plastic utensils and paper plates

• Canned vegetables: Be careful about the expiration dates.
• Boxed food: While it might not be some of the brands you’re used to, you can find some rather interesting food choices.
• Canned meats: This is a great choice for prepper food. Think tuna, sardines, chicken, Vienna sausages, Spam, and more.
• Candies: It’s often something that is overlooked, but a little treat can be a morale booster.

• Bandages and Band-Aids
• Hydrogen peroxide
• Rubbing alcohol
• First aid tape
• Lip balm
• Toothpicks
• Toothbrushes and toothpaste

Holiday Items
• You might be surprised at what you can find during different times of the year. For example, Christmas and Halloween are great times to find terrific deals on small bags, ribbon, tape and more.
• Decorations aren’t on most people’s prepper lists, but it’s also important to remember to plan for a bit of fun when life isn’t as comfortable as we know it now.

Some Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are some deals to be found at your local dollar stores. Some of the items might not be high quality but will work in an emergency situation. You can have a start to your stockpile without spending a small fortune.

Disaster Plan: What You Need to Know To Survive the First 21 Days


In previous installments we have discussed natural calamities and other events that could place your family at risk, as well as what to expect during the first 72 hours afterward and the basic items to include in a survival kit or bug out bag. In this installment, we will overview the first 21 days after any type of major natural disaster or other event that would likely interrupt food, fuel and water supplies and services that we take for granted such as sanitary sewer, power and communications.

Tsunami Photo

Lessons from The Great Depression

Although a recent reality television show on doomsday preparation would like you to believe otherwise, there is nothing sensational or even remotely weird about living a prepared lifestyle. In fact, most of us have had immediate family members who would have been known today as preppers, just because they survived The Great Depression and went forward understanding the importance of having basic food on hand during hard times.

As the depression years faded, these survivors – perhaps your parents or grandparents – worked diligently to maintain a stable food supply by stocking their pantry with staples and learning to preserve excess foods, when possible. Although they faced no more events that equaled the devastation of The Great Depression, they continued to reap the benefits of their food storage efforts each time they went through difficult times as a family, such as when sickness, unemployment or other problems arose. Today, it is wise to continue the practices of our seasoned relatives, as well as taking advantage of new products ranging from doomsday survival kits to freeze-dried commercial foods that are pre-packaged and ready for long-term storage.

21 Days and Beyond

Should a devastating natural calamity, such as a major earthquake, volcanic eruption or other natural disaster occur, it is doubtful that you will go to work or send the children to school for several days, weeks or even longer. Instead, your days will be spent in working to help your family and others survive and thrive in a world that has suddenly become focused solely on the basic human needs of food, water and shelter.

In most types of severe disaster situations, food supplies and water services are likely to be interrupted. This means that many people, especially those who live in high-density areas, will be forced to leave the area or risk perishing, due to the scarcity of food and safe water within just a few days of the event. A family that has at least enough food, water and supplies to remain safe and healthy for a minimum of three weeks will have a far greater chance at surviving most disaster scenarios.

At first thought, 21 days – or three weeks – does not seem like a long time. However, if you suddenly had no access to the local grocery store or Wal-Mart to obtain food and supplies, three weeks suddenly seems like forever. A good exercise, or perhaps a reality check for those who are beginning to think about their family’s preparedness needs is to take a good look at your current pantry or kitchen cupboards. Will the current contents allow you to make 63 nourishing meals (3 meals x 21 days) for your family?

For most families, the answer is an emphatic “No”! Like most, you may find that you have only a small amount of staples and canned goods on hand, with the bulk of the food in your home actually consisting of fresh foods that must be refrigerated or frozen. Remember, however, that the food that is currently in your refrigerator and freezer should not be counted toward the amount of food your family has on hand for emergency use. Any serious natural calamity or major event will almost certainly disrupt your electrical power, necessitating that any of these refrigerated and frozen foods must be used within 1-3 days following the actual crisis, or be at risk of spoiling.

Easy Ways to Build and Maintain Food and Basic Needs

While it is now very possible, affordable and even advisable to purchase some types of doomsday supplies as part of your effort to become more prepared, it also makes sense to make small changes in the way you shop and store food as part of the process of becoming more prepared.

One small change that will yield huge results is simply setting aside a small amount of your weekly food and basic needs budget to use for preparedness items. A ten- or twenty-dollar weekly investment over the period of one year will ensure that your pantry is well-stocked in the event of an emergency situation or for those times when unexpected expenses occur and illness or unemployment strikes.

To obtain the best results from your ten- or twenty-dollar weekly preparedness shopping budget, make a master list of the staple food items and basic personal care products that your family needs and wants. Because you will be storing and rotating these supplies over six to twelve months, only include items that have a six month or longer shelf life. Some examples to include on your list are:

  • coffee, tea, instant cocoa or powdered drink mixes
  • cans or bottles of juice
  • bottled water
  • grains, flours, cornmeal and pasta
  • dried beans, rice and popcorn
  • canned fruits and vegetables
  • powdered milk and cheeses
  • canned tuna, meats and soups
  • powdered eggs
  • sugar, syrup, jams and jellies
  • pickles
  • vinegar
  • laundry soap, dish soap and bleach
  • toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags
  • bar soap
  • shampoos, toothpaste, personal hygiene products, etc.
  • aspirin, OTC medications, Vitamins, first-aid supplies
  • pet food and pet care products

Remember that there is no point in purchasing and storing products that your family does not like or want to use, even if the price seems to be a bargain. Instead, build your pantry by doing as your grandmother might have, by simply purchasing extra of the things that you already use and then continuing to rotate and restock the supply regularly to maintain freshness.

The Importance of Having Low-Tech Solutions for Everyday Needs

Another important factor in becoming more prepared and ready to handle any type of natural calamity or disaster situation is to learn to the importance of reducing your dependence on technology. The first step in doing this is to determine how dependent you really are on electrical power and technology, as a family. To do this, ask each family member to jot down each time they use any appliance or device over the course of a single day. In addition to lighting, heating, pumping water and cooking, the list will likely include coffee makers, alarm clocks, toasters, microwaves, can openers, blenders, toothbrushes, e-book readers, music players, computers and a multitude of other devices and gadgets.

While playing music may not be a priority during a crisis, many other tasks that are now often routinely performed with the assistance of electricity will still need to be performed when the power is out for an extended time.

Consider each task that is important to your family’s daily health, safety and comfort and then think about how you will accomplish this task in a low-tech manner, without depending on the electrical grid. For example, how will you:

  • make coffee and toast or cook without coffee makers, microwaves, toasters and appliances?
  • heat water for bathing and hygiene needs without reliance on a hot water heater?
  • Shave without an electric razor?
  • open cans of food without an electric can opener?
  • read critical survival books and materials without a computer or e-reader?
  • find an address or location without GPS?
  • communicate with others without email, cell phones, land lines or Internet service?

Look for a low-tech solution for each item on your list, for example, having a stovetop coffeepot that can be used over a wood fire or on your gas grill and keeping printed versions of important books, documents and reading materials.

Preview: In the next installment we will take a deeper look at keeping your home, family and the doomsday prep supplies you need for survival safe during a disaster situation.

Natural Calamity: What to Have, What to Know During the Critical First 72 Hours of Any Catastrophic Event

Fallout Shelter

In our first installment we discussed a few of the natural calamities and events that could create discomfort or even extreme danger for your family. Although hurricanes, electro magnetic pulses (EMPs), earthquakes and financial meltdowns are all very different in origin, they, as well as many other types of events and disasters, have the same potential to quickly make life uncomfortable or unsafe.

When these types of events and natural calamities strike, the preparations you have and the decisions you make during the initial 72 hours will likely determine the outcome for your family. A few simple preparations, including a survival kit and some basic knowledge can help your family remain safe, with adequate food, clean water and basic shelter when the world around you seems to be falling apart.

Will the Government Be There to Assist You?

The need to prepare for disaster is an idea that is neither new, nor extreme. Your parents or grandparents may have been part of the cold war generation, with a fallout shelter buried in the backyard. Even our modern day government entities understand that we live with the threat of a devastating natural calamity or event at some time in the future.

In fact, in March of 2007, the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) updated basic disaster planning information on their website. In it, they discuss the first 72 hours after an event occurs and the basic supplies you will need to remain safe and comfortable during this period.  FEMA also points out that basic services, including telephones, gas, water and electricity may not be available and that public safety services may not be able to reach to provide aid, should it be needed.

In all likelihood, relying on or waiting for government help to arrive will not enhance your chances to survive this type of event. If the event is severe enough to impact infrastructure, including power lines, communication towers and transportation routes, the police, fire or ambulance personnel may not even know that you need help or be able to reach you in time to save your life or put out a fire.

Additionally, a natural calamity of any consequence will likely prevent many key public safety and medical personnel from reporting for work as they attempt to keep their own families safe. This means that each of your family members will need to be prepared, with the knowledge and supplies to survive independently of the system we have always been taught to rely on.

Should You Shelter in Place?

In most cases, sheltering in place – as in the comfort and safety of your own home and community – is likely to be the best option. This will allow you to remain sheltered in your own home, where you can utilize food, water and supplies that you have stored for an emergency situation. However, it is not always possible to shelter in place safely.

In situations where your home is severely damaged from the natural calamity itself, is at risk from fire or floodwaters, or there is some other immediate threat to health and safety, you will need to consider relocating your family to a safer place.

In addition to environmental conditions that could force you from your home immediately after or within hours of a natural calamity or catastrophic event, there are also other safety issues to consider that could make it necessary to leave your home. If the disaster or event has damaged water mains or sewer and gas lines, such as that which could occur after an earthquake or explosion or there is civil unrest in the area, such as looting and rioting, it may be necessary to seek safety in a less populate area or one that is insulated from the danger.

Where Can You Go During the First 72 Hours?

Part of staying safe during any disaster situation is having a backup plan. This type of plan means that you will be prepared for situations that would make staying in your home unsafe. These preparations include:

  • access to a suitable, safe shelter within an easily travelable distance from your current home
  • a good logistical plan to help you get there, by car or by other means, such as on foot, by bike or by boat
  • supplies to keep each member of your family safe while traveling to your alternate location, such as survival kits

Good locations to base your backup plan on might be a friend or family’s home or farm that is well away from the epicenters of the disaster. If you do not have this option, good places to consider are state and national parks where you may be able to camp with relative ease and safety immediately after a natural calamity or disaster event.

What Will You Need to Survive Away from Home?

If you must leave your home, supplying each family with a kit of basic survival needs is the best way to ensure their safety, health and some measure of comfort. Survival kits can be purchased, complete with pre-packed, non-perishable food, or you can put one together, often from basic materials found in your own home.

When creating a survival kit, a backpack or even a fanny pack can be used, but remember to make sure it is roomy and comfortable enough to carry when traveling, especially when walking.

Inside the backpack, you will need to assemble:

  • something for shelter (trash bags, small tarps or squares of plastic sheeting work well to make a tent and ground cover)
  • a blanket (a wool blanket can be rolled up tightly and will be extremely warm and durable)
  • rope, paracord and a length of wire (these take up little space and can be used to help assemble a tent, make snares, tie bundles and many other uses)
  • a way to make fire (this can be waterproof matches, lighters or both)
  • basic first aid (a small package of bandages, aspirin, anti-biotic ointment and a small container of disinfectant)
  • water filtration and purification ( personal filtration devices, water purification tablets or even a small container of unscented household bleach)
  • cooking and eating utensils (a small pot, a fork and spoon and a drinking cup)
  • a good quality knife
  • basic caloric requirements for each person for a minimum of three days (lightweight options include beans and rice, jerky, energy bars and military MREs)

Additionally, you should also be sure to include a bar of soap, a few pairs of socks, a change of clothing and any prescription medicines in each family member’s survival kit.  While many other items can also be included to enhance your personal safety and comfort, this basic kit will keep you and your family fed, hydrated and sheltered in an emergency situation.

Preview: Our next installment delves farther into a world gone awry as we look at what happens during the first 21 days after a major event or natural calamity and what you need to do now to ensure that your family survives.