In a survival situation, you have to have shelter that’s going to keep you safe from whatever the weather delivers. Whether it’s the sun beating down on you or a raging thunderstorm, you need to be protected and so does your family.
Your survival shelter will depend on what materials are available to you. If you can plan ahead, this is always the best possible way to make sure you and your family will have the right shelter that you need.
Most survivalists know how to make a long term survival shelter, but when you’re on the go or you have to get set up quickly, you have to be provided for in the meantime. In a pinch, you can use an oversized poncho as shelter.
But this is a short term solution. You can also use a large garbage bag like you would a poncho. You should always travel with some type of shelter with you or have the tools to make one quickly.
A waterproof tarp will also work for a temporary shelter and these are strong enough to withstand some pretty tough elements and they can do a fairly good job of keeping you warm. However, they’re not good as a long term shelter.
Some people use enclosed top portable hammocks. These are lightweight and can be tied to trees to keep the hammocks off the ground. You can find these online and they have mesh walls that act as a pest barrier. These shelters are temporary and are suited mainly for adults or teenagers rather than smaller children.
If you want to make sure that your family is well cared for, you’re going to want to set aside tents. You can choose the tube tents and these set up quickly and get people out of the elements.
You can choose a two man or a family tent. Always look for ones with quick set up. Scout tents are a good choice as are teepee tents. If you know you might be in the tent for a few weeks, you can look for dome or lodge tents.
A survival blanket can also be constructed into a temporary lean to if you have cord with you. If you don’t have any cording, you can search the area to see if it has some plant vines you could use as cording to tie the survival blanket to the trees.
You can construct a shelter out of the materials that nature provides. Depending on how much time you have, this can be either short or long term. You can build a shelter from tree limbs and leaves. By packing the shelter with leaves, it will keep you warm for a short period of time.
Living a prepper lifestyle is not only good for preparing for the future, but it’s a great way to live a less stressful life. Many people get tired of the rat race and long for something more calming.
A few give up their suburban lives and head for remote locations. That’s not what being a prepper is all about. Being a prepper is not about pulling yourself away from society and living like a hermit.
It’s simply living a life that doesn’t rely on the others to see you through a short term or long term disaster. While being a prepper is a great way to live, it’s really not for everyone.
So how can you tell who’s a good fit and who will absolutely hate living the life of a prepper? First, living the prepper lifestyle takes a complete commitment. The life is not for you if you think you want to dabble in it and see how it goes.
You’re either into it, or you’re not. If you’re ready to give up the way you’ve been living until now, and you’re ready to break free of the capitalistic mentality taught by society, then the lifestyle is for you.
If you know that you’re ready to walk away from being dependent on others for your needs, then this is for you. You have to believe that what you’re gaining is a better life for yourself and your family.
If you know that you’re ready to get organized and are committed to building your short term and long term inventory of goods and supplies, then the prepper lifestyle is something you’d find to be a good fit.
Being ready to become totally self-sufficient is a good clue that you’re ready for a life change. If you’re ready to learn about self protection and first aid and how to take care of yourself and your family through anything, then you’re ready.
Being a prepper is not about living to the extreme the way the wacky survivalists you see portrayed on television live. It means you accept that there are things outside your control that could impact your life greatly, such as disasters, government collapse, etc. – and you want to be ready for whatever comes.
That’s when you know you’re ready for the prepper lifestyle. But not everyone who thinks they are actually is ready. If you’re in a relationship and your partner is dead-set against it, hates it, wants no part of it, you’re not ready if you don’t want to risk ruining the relationship.
You’re not ready if there are certain things in your life that you feel you absolutely can’t give up – such as a daily trip to the local delicatessen or that expensive cup of coffee. You’re not ready and the lifestyle is not for you if you set aside money for supplies but then spend it on going out to eat or shopping for a new pair of shoes or the latest video game.
You’re not ready if you have a deep attachment to the conveniences of life and rely too heavily on technology. You can’t imagine your life without modern technology is a sign you’re not ready.
If you have an unwillingness to learn how to prepare for the future or aren’t interested in sustainable living, then you’re not ready for the prepper lifestyle. But most people can envision a day when the worst case scenario happens, and if it happens to you, you’ll have to deal with it – ready or not.
The job of a survival blanket is to increase your odds of surviving in extreme conditions. Most survival blankets are tear resistant and have some type of reflective material on the outside of them. Some can also be used in water to help lock your body heat in.
They can be made of various materials and are extremely portable with most of them folded into a shape about the size of an adult’s hand. They can serve many different purposes in order to help save your life.
A heavy blanket can be used to create a way to keep the elements off of you. These heavier blankets can be rigged up over tree branches as a way to make a shelter. You’ll get a protective barrier against wind, rain and even driving sleet.
Lightweight blankets are made of material that’s intended to keep the rain or other elements off of you, but they’re not good if you need to use a blanket as an emergency shelter.
The lightweight ones can help keep out the chill, but if you’re going to be somewhere, such as in snowy areas, it’s best to have the heavier blanket. Survival blankets come in different sizes, widths and colors.
One of these colors is bright orange and the orange is what makes it easier for you to be found in the event that a rescue is needed. These kinds of blankets are large enough to wrap around two adults or one adult and a child.
Other survival blankets are lightweight thermal ones that are specifically designed to keep you alive in blizzard type conditions. These are self-heating blankets that use your body’s own heat to generate the warmth you need.
There are also heat reflective blankets that have a mirror type sheen on one side, which makes them reflect. These are highly visible blankets and are good to use in extreme cold or in extreme heat because they deflect the rays of the sun and help keep you cool.
All weather blankets are also well known as survival blankets. These types of blankets are made with the same kind of material that’s used by astronauts. It can deflect heat or hold heat in even in below zero weather.
This kind of blanket is good to have in the event of a major disaster like a hurricane if you live in the colder states and lose your electricity during winter months. The all weather blankets are strong enough to double as a shelter. Placed in the bottom of a tent, they can protect you from the cold or wetness of the ground.
Unfortunately, illnesses don’t care about disasters. They’ll keep coming at you regardless of whether or not you’re in an emergency situation. Few people take into consideration that when disasters hit, there won’t be access to the same level of medical care or prescriptions.
You’ll want to start now and learn how to store antibiotics for your future. There are a handful of antibiotics you want to make sure you have in a good supply. These 7 important antibiotics are: sulfamethoxazole (400mg), amoxicillin (both the 250 as well as the 500 mg), metronidazole (250 mg), ciprofloxacin (store these in both the 250 and the 500 mg), ampicillin (again, both the 250 and the 500 mg), cephalexin (250 and 500 mg) and doxycycline in 100 mg.
If you struggle with recurring illness – especially if you have a compromised immune system – you may be able to talk to your doctor about ordering a few months’ worth of antibiotics from your mail order pharmacy.
You want to store as much of these as you can for upcoming disasters. However, what happens if you can’t get all of the medication you need lined up? You can do what some other preppers are doing and buy the equivalent of human antibiotics right off the shelf in your local veterinarian’s office and you don’t need a prescription to get this medication.
There are some medications that are prescribed to animals that are the same ones that are given to humans. Amoxicillin can be found under the name fish-mox forte. The bottle evenly clearly labels itself as amoxicillin. Doxycycline can be found as bird biotic.
Never toss out antibiotics just because the date on them is past the ‘use by’ date. This date doesn’t mean that if it’s past that time, that suddenly the medication is no longer effective.
All manufacturers are required by law to put a date on the medication. Most medications can last a couple of years past that use by date. But in order for them to be viable, you have to store them properly.
When it comes to keeping antibiotics, heat can render an antibiotic useless. So you don’t want to store them in heat or anywhere that moisture can be an issue. So that means you don’t want to store your antibiotics in your bug out bag if your bug out bag isn’t kept in a cool place.
What most preppers do is to store their antibiotics in the freezer. You want to seal them up first with a vacuum seal. The lower temperatures keeps the medicine from breaking down the way they would if stored at room temperature or warmer.
Water is one of the essentials your body has to have in order to be able to survive. Your body’s organs can’t function without it. Since water is so necessary, you want to make sure that you’re well prepared with abundant access to clean water.
One of the problems with using water you find in nature is that the water can be filled with bacteria or other contaminants. For immediate water needs, you’ll want to have purification tablets to clean the water.
You can buy these in bottle form online and get a supply that will last you long enough for you to set up a more permanent water supply situation. You’ll also want to have filters on hand.
These are filters that can clean water for up to a week or longer depending on the type you buy. These filters take care of bacteria, including the kind that can cause some nasty illnesses.
These filters can purify water so well that it will allow you to use water even from a swamp or a swimming pool. These filters are lightweight and easily portable. You’ll also need to have containers to use so that you can keep the water stored.
If you’re looking at something short-term, you can use emergency water bags to take along with you in your backpack. These bags will hold up to 5 liters of water. There are also lightweight water bladders available. You can find these in sizes that will hold anywhere from 25 to 150 gallons of water.
Water bricks are other containers you can use but these don’t hold as much water. They each hold less than 4 gallons of water, but what makes them useful is that they are stackable so they don’t take up a lot of room.
Water barrels are another item you need in order to properly prepare your water supplies. These barrels can hold about 55 gallons of water. If you’re using these water barrels thought, you might want to invest in a siphon pump for easier retrieval of the water to other containers.
When you’re carrying water to transport to your storage container, you’re going to need a water carrier. You can find the collapsible ones that are inexpensive and very portable if they need to be put in a backpack. These water carriers are good because they’re not rigid and they won’t crack in cold weather.
Some people invest in water test kits to make sure that their purifying system has made the water safe to drink. If you have small children, the test kits are something you’ll definitely want to buy.
To be prepared to survive, you’ll need to know certain skills and if you have some survivalist skills already, you’ll want to hone those skills. You want to make sure that you’re prepared to live off the grid if you have to.
Gaining the skills that you need can come from a variety of different sources. Some people prefer to take the do-it-yourself approach to learning survival skills – so they set out to learn from other survivalists.
The way to do that is to join forums where you’ll find men and women with different levels of experience. On the forums, you can learn the best ways to purify the water you’ll need.
You can learn what shelter means are necessary. The people involved will discuss the best products to put in your bug out bag and which products don’t pan out. You’ll gain a wealth of knowledge from the sharking of their expertise.
Many of these forums will also allow users to post how-to videos so that you’ll get a visual on how to perform certain survival tasks. While the majority of these forums are free to join, you’ll find a few of them that do have membership fees and some ask for donations.
Retreats are also a great way to learn survival skills. In some states, you’ll find groups that hold retreats in order to learn survival skills. These retreats are great for teaching the basics – like how to set up a camp – and they use different levels of preparedness in the retreat.
People will learn how to survive for days, weeks and then months. Besides teaching the basics like how to survive for a few days, these retreats teach long term survival. By going on a professional retreat, you’ll learn how to plant a garden that will sustain you and your family.
You’ll learn which items you absolutely must have and how to live completely off the land. You’ll learn how to handle evacuation scenarios and how to build up your supplies in order to survive. These retreats cater to families, groups, and individuals who want to learn survival skills.
Courses in survival are another method some people like to take. You can find courses online that will teach you survival. The courses you’ll need to take are taught at survival school.
You’ll get the training you need in a hands-on approach. You can choose to take these courses in various time formats. The courses are offered from a week to a month in length.
You can find courses that will take a stringent, just-the-basics approach where customers can’t bring a tent or even a backpack but will learn how to survive using just what nature provides.
Some people choose to prepare their survival skills by using more than one learning approach and end up joining forums as well as going on a retreat before gearing up for a hands-on survival course.
Flashy cars are certainly a status symbol – and there’s nothing quite like cruising to the beach in a newer model convertible with the top down and the wind on your face. Except the flash won’t do you any good when a disaster strikes.
When a disaster strikes, many people become stranded because the roads are impassible to ordinary cars. Debris clogs the roads – and if you try to take a flashy little car over debris on the road or through the slick mud covered trails, you’re not going to make it very far.
You have to have a vehicle that’s not going to wimp out when there’s a little trouble on the road. You need to get a four wheel drive that will give you the traction you need when things get a little rough.
Not only do you need a four wheel drive, but you have to have something that gives you some space. Having a small four wheel drive is okay if it’s just you. It’s okay if you and your family want to run up to the corner supermarket, but loaded down with all the gear you need to take, that small four wheel drive isn’t going to make the cut.
So get a vehicle that offers you all the room you and your family will need to pack it up and haul out of any bad situation. You want something that’s easy to maneuver – so that doesn’t mean that you have to go out and buy a truck with monster wheels.
You need to be able to get the vehicle through the area you want to go. So a good rule of thumb is to get a vehicle that can handle going off the road and make sure that you, your family and all of your bug out gear can easily fit into it.
Sometimes, not even a decent vehicle is going to cut it when the road floods. To make sure you’re covered by land or by water, you should have a survival boat. Don’t waste your time on an inflatable boat for long term use.
The debris in the water will make sure it doesn’t last very long. You want something that your family can bug out in – but something that will also provide shelter if you have to stay on it for several days.
In the best scenario, a boat is merely a means of getting where you need to go, but the great thing about boats is that you can buy one that’s big enough to hold all of the equipment you need to survive temporarily.
You also want to have a 4 wheeler. The reason you want to have a 4 wheeler is in case you need to get out and your vehicle can’t make the trip out. You can use the 4 wheeler to transport yourself and family members (even if you have to make several trips) to an area where your boat or an alternative escape means awaits.
When an emergency strikes, people almost always panic – especially when it comes to natural disasters. Planning for natural disasters means planning ahead before the need arises.
There’s no time like right now to get the items you need in order for your family to survive whatever may come (whether it’s a natural disaster or a man made crisis). Getting all of your goods together is easy, but there is a right way to shop for the gear that you need.
The way to find the best quality gear at the best prices is to take your shopping list online. You can get free shipping and a better selection of gear – including gear suited for babies and toddlers.
Many online shopping sites have pages and pages of gear that you can easily scroll through to find exactly what you’re looking for. Whether it’s food, shelter or protection, you can search for which gear is the best as far as pricing and durability.
You’ll be able to check out everything about the item and then even compare it to similar products that are about the same price. It’s easier to shop online for survival gear because everything you need on your list is available and often at one place.
You can create a master list – and if budgeting is a problem, many online stores have a way that their customers can put the item on a to-buy-later or a wish list. This will help keep you organized as to what you’ve already bought, too.
One of the great things about shopping online for survival gear is that you’ll be able to gain valuable insight from people who are also looking to plan for their family’s emergency survival. When a product is purchased, many sites will allow customers to rate that item and leave feedback. The higher the star rating, the higher the customer satisfaction.
When you shop online, as you’re checking out a product, you’ll get to see all the specifics about the item – but one of the best reasons to look online for your gear is that you can read honest reviews. These reviews can actually help guide you to the best product if the one being reviewed falls short because reviewers will share what the best product is.
People will tell you what they like and don’t like about the item you’re thinking of buying and you’ll also see reviews to see if the item was as durable as the manufacturer said it was.
This can help prevent you from wasting your hard-earned money on products that are more hype than quality. It’s a great way that the online community looks out for one another.
I recently created a step-by-step course on how to bug in if you were a city dweller and were stuck in
an apartment. The response to that course was very positive, with quite a few people writing in and
asking if I would do one for those of you who live in the suburbs but plan to bug in, when the SHTF
(Sh*t Hits The Fan, for those of you who are not familiar with the acronym).
In this guide I spoke about one of the biggest dangers facing preppers in any threat, whether terrorist,economic collapse or some form of pandemic is that of population density – the further you live from people, the more chance you have of living through a crisis like this. However, not all of us can live offgrid at the present time or in a million dollar compound in the hills of Idaho. In fact these days it is very hard to have some form of decent paying career without living close to a major city.
I really do think preppers living in the suburbs have a much higher chance of successfully bugging in
compared to inner city preppers, but at the same time keep in mind that in the advent of a long-term
grid-down situation, sooner or later you may have to bug out to a rural area.
Of course in a situation like Hurricane Katrina (mass flooding) or a fire that is engulfing your
neighborhood, bugging out is your only option. For other SHTF scenarios where you may have the
option of bugging out to a FEMA camp, I think you have a much better chance of survival hunkering
down at home versus the Government disaster camp option.
One of the plus points for an apartment prepper compared to those of us living in the suburbs is that in an Apartment (that is off the ground floor) you really only have one or two entry points, the front door and perhaps a fire escape window, which makes them a lot easier to defend against an angry mob. In
the average suburban home there can be multiple entry points making it much harder to defend against
attacks from say the front door as well as a side window simultaneously.
With that said let’s get into it.
Security and Defense
There is an old saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you look at home invasion
type scenarios, the weakest links are points of entry such as your windows and doors, with the most
common home invasion entry point being your front door.
Most suburban home doors are next to useless, super lightweight material (masonite), that would not
last a good firm kick or two. I am sure you probably don’t want to think about it but in reality you
might be better off replacing the front door with something like a galvanized steel door from a Home
Depot or Lowes, which will set you back about $400. That’s my ideal choice – make sure you get the
one with the reinforced frame too.
If your wife or loved ones think you are going too far by replacing your decorative door with a
unsightly (but much safer and secure) door and you really can’t make the switch over, as an alternative ,consider a security door which goes over your nice existing front door. Some of them have very
attractive patterns which might make people with more sensitive sensibilities feel less like they are
living in a prison. These are lockable from the inside so it gives you an extra layer to prevent your door being breached so easily.
Even after your replace your door with a reinforced one it pays to have some extra locks on it – most
doors lock in the middle – you really need to have two extra locks on the door (one lower and one
higher) to help prevent it being kicked in. Forget about one of those chain locks they are more for peace
of mind than to actually do anything to slow criminals from entering your home.
A simple device called a door jammer is also a good investment. Do a Google search for “nightlock
door brace” to find their website. If things do get hairy out there and you are facing a two week plus
bug in, even a 2 x 4 nailed to the floor behind the front door will suffice to slow intruders down when
trying to force entry.
Even though 70% of break ins are via doors, windows are the next weakest link in the chain. When I
lived in the big city, all down stairs windows (basement and first floor apartments) had bars on the
windows. I had a second floor apartment, but in which there was only really one window that posed a
security threat and that was the one next to the fire escape. The trouble with suburban houses are that
you have multiple ground floor windows and many houses have the nice sliding patio doors which
pretty much any intruder can grab a piece of lawn furniture, fling it through the window and gain entry
to your house.
Sure you can have bars over all your windows but depending on the layout of your house and the
amount of ground floor windows and sliding patio style doors that you have, you may want to look into
those accordion style hurricane shutters. You can get them fitted to all your doors and windows and
they roll up for unobstructed views when everything is normal, they can be hand cranked if there is a
power outage, they protect your house in extreme weather and of course prevents burglars and
If you are worried about feeling like you live in a prison if you do choose to go the option of security bars on your windows or perhaps there are no local firms that install the hurricane shutters please don’t despair as there are plenty of ornamental style bars for windows these days. Just be sure to have a professional to install them and make sure the bolts they use are deep and not the small ones that usually come with the package. Since these can be ripped off with a bit of leverage. One down side of bars on windows is that they can also trap you in your home during a fire (a big no no).
Another alternative to bars is security film for your windows. Many businesses use these to reinforce
their windows against vandals. These do reinforce your windows against someone smashing them but
with enough force they will still break. If you do end up using these, see them at best as a stalling tactic while you and your family either hit a safe room in your house or escape via a pre-arranged exit point.
Window locks are another cheap and effective way to stop people gaining entry to your apartment.
There are many different varieties on the market these days. I prefer the casement style ones that
operate with a bolt – in device and are unlocked with a key.
In the event of a real bug in, I suggest that you have previously purchased plywood (from your local
lumber store) and have it pre-cut to fit on the inside of your windows. Once it has been cut, you can
mark each sheet of wood on where it is to be bolted on, and have it screwed into your window frames,
leaving the curtains appearing on the outside. Important point, if the grid goes down and there is mass
chaos on the streets you do not want anyone to know that you have power and food inside your place,
especially at night where any lamps or lights can be a dead giveaway. Remember in the movie 28 Days
Later, when they have to spend the night at Jim’s parents place and while reminiscing at night he absentmindedly switches on a light which attracts the infected, costing one of them their life? Well you don’t want to be doing that! Once the plywood is pre-cut you can install the sheets in your garage,behind book shelves or under your bed until needed. Again like I said clearly mark the inside of each plywood sheet on where it should go (front room right window, the front room left window, kitchen window, etc.).
It goes without saying that marking the sheets on the side that goes outwards is definitely not advisable.
I grew up in Australia and pretty much 99% of suburban homes have a large fence covering their back
yard. I have lived in the United States for over 15 years and have been all over this great country and
very rarely do I see suburban houses with any kind of fence. Now I am not sure if this is a customary
thing or a local city by law, since some neighborhoods have them and others do not. It is well worth
checking what the local laws are like in your area. Think on this, if you are in a grid down situation and people are seeing you in your back yard, whether it’s working on your veggie patch or accessing some sort of water storage system, all of a sudden you are going to have more people to feed and water.
I am sure you could tell people it’s to keep your dogs out of their garden (or your kids) and that’s why you have a 6ft high fence. It’s not so bad if your neighbors are preppers but if they are the sort who “poo poo” the prepping lifestyle rest assured they will be the first ones to coming knocking on your door when the grocery stores run out of essential items. Having a vegetable garden, propane gas tanks, water storage etc. should be on a need to know basis only. If they are not on your team then they don’t need to know!
I know preppers who suggest that you glue crushed glass to the top of your fence to stop people from
leaping over, other preppers suggest planting spikes in the ground at the bottom of your fence (except
where you have already decided to exit your yard) so that any intruders leaping over will be impaled.
As much as these medieval ideas are very effective I also feel they could back fire on you in an
emergency. If you ran out in a panic at night, adrenaline pumping and you run right into your own trap.
That said it is really your call, especially if you have a young family who could get injured playing in your garden on a regular day it may not be worth the risk.
It is not socially acceptable to have a massive 6ft high fence around your front yard, not in Australia
(where everyone has one for their back yard) and not in the United States unless you happen to live in a mansion in Beverly Hills, ha ha. What I do like and recommend is the short brick walls that often come with ornamental bars in between the pillars. One of the nice things with these is they make it so much harder for a car to get a good run up to ram raid your home plus if you plant some nice shrubbery as well it will give your front yard an extra level of concealment in a grid down situation. As always keep in mind that any really determined raiding party will eventually destroy a brick wall but the minutes it takes them to drive back and forth to smash it down might just save you and your families lives. Water
As any prepper knows the three keys to surviving any situation are shelter, water, then food. Let’s
discuss water options.
Most preppers advise you to store an average of 2 gallons a day for a family of 4, in reality the average American uses up to 30 gallons a day! Of course it is just not realistic to prep with this much water, but I do think that most people will be unprepared to use so little water in a survival situation, especially for washing and going to the bath room.
One of the many plus points for prepping in a suburban home versus say an apartment is that you have
much more room to store water, especially in your back yard. (Now you see why it’s so important to
have a nice secure back fence for your yard?).
You can actually set up a simple system to capture rainwater using the existing gutter on your house for a little over $100
Just make sure when you purchase your 55 gallon drum (about $90 from a Lowes or Home Depot) that
you get a food grade one. Food grades are 1, 2, 4 and 5. The best food grade drums are marked number 2
In general I only use my rain water tanks for washing and flushing the toilet in a grid down situation. If you are in a bind and have run out of drinking water it can be used but you need to purify it first.
One of the simplest ways to kill bacteria in your water to make it suitable for drinking is to use NON
SCENTED Chlorine Bleach by adding 2 drops to every 2 liters of water you are preparing and let stand
for half an hour before drinking.
Iodine is another common method to purify water to make it safe for
drinking – however it should be noted that people who are allergic to shellfish will not be able to use
this method. Iodine must be stored in a dark place (kitchen pantry or a closet ideally) and not left out in direct sunlight. In fact your stored water is also best left in a dark closet as opposed to sitting out in the sun
Since we are preparing for a semi short term bug in scenario, many preppers argue that a big bunch of
cases of bottled water would cover you for a 14-30 day type scenario. Personally I think the bottled
water is the wrong way to go. Ok I know that you can get sweet deals at places like Costco, but for the
amount of water you would need for even two people to bug in for 30 days it’s going to take up way
too much space. Plus the fact that if you do have your home boarded up like we described above and
things are hairy outside, you are going to have a lot of empty water bottles lying around. A LOT!
I do recommend for home preppers to have a couple of 55 gallon drums stored in their house, say their
basement if you have one but I would also suggest you invest in a few water bricks too. Water Bricks
which can be bought online – they are a bit more in price but the plus points is that they are stack-able and if say you do have to make a break from your house to a second location, these are so much easier to move and transport over a full 55 gallon drum.
Look them up and weigh the pros and cons. To me I think they are the smart way to go, because they
stack easily in your pantry or storage closet and are much easier to transport individually than a huge
Houses in general have much more space to store food than your averaged sized apartment which is
another plus point to bugging in, in the suburbs versus an inner city bug in.
Personally I think the best way to go for a medium length bug in is a good mix of prepper
dehydrated/freeze dry meals, MRE’s (meals ready to eat), and canned goods from your local
supermarket. Many of the MRE’s are heavy on calories but not so much on protein, since they were
predominately designed to give soldiers carbs/energy for a long battle.
Freeze Dried Meals
These come in a variety of flavors and last a long time (the ones we sell last up to 10 years) and cook in the pouch by adding hot water. Price wise they are relatively cheap and stack easily if space is a
concern for you. Many health conscious people worry about the amount of sodium in some of these
brands, however I think if I was in a position of going without something to eat for two weeks and
consuming a meal with high sodium content – I know which I would go for.
Meals Ready to Eat (M.R.E.)
As mentioned above, these were designed for soldiers on the battlefield, many of these come with a
nifty little built in device to cook the meals in the bag. They are also very carb loaded, not that that is a bad thing. Some people like me have a high metabolism and if I don’t get a lot of carbs I get hungry shortly after. Other people have to watch their caloric intake or they gain weight. Again, I think it’s worth having a combo of freeze dried, MRE’s and grocery store food for an apartment bug in.
Canned Goods From the Grocery Store.
When I first realized I wanted to start storing food for a home bug in, I slowly added a bunch of extra
cans of food to my weekly shopping list and it wasn’t long before I had a back up supply that would last me three months. Make sure you pick up a good balance of canned fruits and vegetables – try to go for low sodium veggies and low sugar or no sugar fruits if you can. After two weeks of living on MRE’s
you will appreciate the fiber in the veggies and the vitamin C in the fruits. Of course you can also pick up cans of tuna, beans, soups, breakfast cereals, ramen noodles etc. Cooking
Most suburban home owners have a BBQ grill of some type that’s pretty safe to say. However in a post
collapse type scenario the last thing that would be smart to do is fire up your grill to cook up some of your stocked food. The next thing you know you will have every hungry neighbor in the area asking
you for something to eat. Perhaps if you have a chimney in your house you MIGHT be able to get away
with using your griller inside but I would still be scared of the fire risk, asphyxiation and potential
smoke signals (so to speak).
What I like to use for indoor SHTF cooking is one of those little sterno fuel can devices. You have
probably seen one if you have ever been to a catered event, at the buffet table, chances are they have
used them under the big dishes of food to keep them warm. You can pick up a packet of two for around
$6 and they have about two hours of cooking time in each one. Now bear in mind these are far more
suited for warming food than say grilling steaks but again, we are trying to prep for a worst case
scenario bug in and a warm meal will be greatly appreciated. When you go buy them from your
camping store, Kmart, Walmart, etc, make sure you get one of the little stands that go with them to
cook your meal on. They usually cost about another $8. I know my local Kmart sells the cans and
stands side by side. Fire safety
* In a mass grid down situation there will be little to no emergency services. If you are cooking at
home with gas or using candles to light your place then you must take extreme precaution to make sure
you do not start a house fire. Here are some quick fire safety tips.
Leaving Cooking Unattended
Cooking accidents are one of the most common causes of fires in the home. In a grid down situation
you may still be cooking with gas or perhaps a Sterno cooker and just one little mistake can cause a big problem. You will not be able to call the fire department if something goes wrong. It may sound simple but do not leaving cooking pots unattended. My current kitchen has one of those cooking timer clocks on the stove top and countless times I have set water to boil and gone off and done something else (which at the time I think is more important) sure enough when the timer goes off I am thinking “what that for?” In a SHTF situation you cannot afford to make mistakes like that – stay and keep an eye on any food that you have cooking. Grease fires are bad news – never ever throw water onto a grease fire as you will end up only making things ten times worse and more than likely burning your house down. Smother a grease fire with a lid on the pan or by pouring baking soda on it.
Lighters and Matches
Always keep lighters and matches well out of the reach of children.
Chimneys and Fireguards
If you have a fire place make sure it is clear and has no blockages before using – especially after
Always use a fireguard/screen to stop sparks from leaping out of the fire
Don’t leave wet clothes to close to a fire to dry out.
If you still have electricity make sure you do not over load sockets with too many plugs and adapters,
as this has been known to start house fires as well.
Putting heaters or candles too close to something that can burn like newspapers or curtains is a sure
way to start a fire inside, sounds like common sense but make sure you keep heaters away from
Have a Plan
Make a plan to make sure you have two ways out of every room in your home. If you are blocked from
one exit you can use the other. You and your family should practice you escape plan twice a year. Kids
do fire drills at school these days on a pretty regular basis so it should not be anything new for them.
Make sure everyone understands that when there is smoke you have to get down low for the safe air.
Invest in some smoke detectors – you can pick up a set of these from any home depot or hardware store.
Don’t skimp on getting cheap and nasty detectors your family may depend on these! You should have at
least one on every floor of your home and one outside of every sleeping area as well. The ones I have
beep when the battery is getting low. Make sure you have sufficient spare batteries to fit each of your detectors. I would also do a check of the batteries every three months or so just in case they have run down and you get caught out.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide poisoning is the most common type of fatal air poisoning in many countries. Back
when I lived in New York City there was a spate of Carbon Monoxide killings. This colorless, tasteless,
odorless gas killed a few different people across the city in leaks. So common was the poisoning that
they passed a law where all apartments had to have C0 detectors installed. Make sure you do the same
as well have a detector on each floor of your house.
I got mine from Home Depot – the Kidde brand – they were about $50 each. I have a Class B:C in the
kitchen – which is good for Flammable liquids and electrical fires and a Class A:B:C in the living room
and in the master bedroom. Class A:B:C is more suited for Woods, textile and plastic fires. Again twice
a year or so test them out and make sure they still work. At my old office we once had to use the fire
extinguisher that had been pinned to the wall for 7 years and of course when we pulled the pin to use it nothing happened! Scary stuff.
Smoking in the house
If you smoke (and you shouldn’t as it wrecks your health, yada yada) make sure you do it outside. My
childhood friend and I cut school in the 8th grade and went to the county fair – we ended up taking in
the Fireman’s exhibition and they showed us numerous photos of little old ladies legs…where they had
been smoking, fallen asleep and burned up leaving just their legs. Obviously it scarred our fragile little minds for a long time after that. 35% of fatalities caused by house fires in the United States last year were caused by fires that started by smoking indoors. This is also with an active fire service, when the grid goes down rest assured most firemen will be staying home to make sure their own families are safe, so take that warning. Smoking, in fact is the NUMBER ONE cause of residential fires in the United States.
If you use propane gas to cook with or warm your house in a grid down situation make sure you store
the tanks outside and not in your house. Ideally you want to store spare propane or gas tanks in a shed
not connected to your house. If you do experience a small, manageable fire in the kitchen for example
any tanks that catch fire could prove to be deadly.
I was in New York City when 9-11 happened and the cell phone network was nowhere near as used as
it is now in 2014 (way less people had cell phones). When the attacks happened, guess what? There
was no cell phone network. I recall people lining up to use payphones to call their loved ones. Next time you are out and about make a mental note of how many payphones you see on the streets these days. Guess what? I never see ANY. There were people lining up to wait their turn to use payphones back in 2001 – so what happens, the next time the network goes down? Yup nothing. A good set of two- way radios picked up from Radio Shack or a sporting goods store will set you back about $60, a smart investment for sure. Buy them, buy a couple of sets of spare batteries for them, and store them in a
closet for when they are needed.
Stock up on any medication you are on. If you are on prescription drugs, it is very hard to get more
than a 30-day supply from your local drug store
I have found the best way is to tell them you are going on a three month trip and usually a sympathetic clerk will let you get that many refills if you have them on your prescription.
Nothing gets a person’s morale down more in a bug in situation than the lack of being able to get clean.
Depending on how much water you have stored away you may not be able to have sponge baths every
night and you would be well advised to invest in wet wipes as part of your prepping stocks as they can
suffice if you are in a jam and need to get clean. In fact many touring musicians on the club circuit,
where there are not always facilities, resort to this method of “staying fresh”.
Stock up on bleach as well since it can be very useful for washing clothes when you only have a little
bit of water available. As an added bonus non-scented bleach can be used as a last ditch method to
purify water if you have run out of fresh drinking water. Recommended use is 8 drops (unscented
bleach) per gallon of water.
Stock up on shampoos and conditioners, too. Water may be limited depending on your bug in time, but
at least trying to wash and keep your hair clean will keep your morale up (the dirty water can be used to flush the toilet).
Walmart has a $25 porta potty with a bucket inside that can be lined with a kitchen size trash bag.
Sprinkle cat litter in the bottom, use it , and sprinkle more cat litter on top, then put the lid back on. Depending on how many people are using it, you change it out once or twice a day. Because eventually you will need a non-water option.
In a temporary bug in situation depending on the scenario, you may have electricity for a few days
before the system stops running. The trouble with most generators built to run all your major
appliances is that they are noisy and not very discreet – if your whole neighborhood was without power
and 3 weeks later they hear your generator rumbling along – guess who is going to get a visit from the
hungry mobs? You are!
Your two best bets are going to be solar power or wind power depending on where you live and your
logistics. Keep in mind that you can get wind powered generators for a couple of hundred bucks on Ebay or Amazon. These are pretty much just useful for charging batteries, an ipod, or cell phone. They
will not power your family sized fridge, your dishwasher or washing machine!
If you purchase and install one of these somewhere on your roof before any type of grid down
situation, these might be ideal to run, especially if they cannot be seen on the street by hungry
You do not want to have one and install it after a few days of the lights going down as neighbors or
hungry mobs might get a clue that something of interest is happening at your place.
Failing that perhaps setting them up at a back window as long as it is somewhere you usually get a
strong steady wind. A friend I know that uses these for home generators report varying results, anything from 12 mph winds generating 60 watts of power to 30 mph winds getting 270 volts of power. Again, it really depends on the location of your apartment building and your available options.
Solar generators are another good alternative energy option, but it really depends on where your house
is located. Even during the cold and frigid NYC winters, we still had blue sky days that would give the
generator that I had set up against my apartment alley wall enough of a charge. You can get a decent
one that would take care of some lamps, cell phone charger, and electric razor for around $200. Again,
like the wind generators, these are not suitable for running major appliances, but small essential items.
I thought long and hard about even mentioning weapons in this course. For a variety of reasons:
#1 Not all states and cities have the same gun laws. What might work for me, might not work for you.
#2 A chapter covering guns? You could easily fill a course on purchasing hand guns, shot guns and
rifles separately, plus extra courses on training with each different type of
firearm as well.
#3 While pretty much every prepper I know loves a good gun collection, like football teams everyone
has personal preferences on brands, models and of course ammo.
With that said let’s at least cover some basics: Shotguns
A shotgun is a great home defense weapon. If you are on a tight budget and can only afford one gun for
home defense then a shotgun is THE way to go. You can get an efficient model for under $200 and if
someone takes a direct hit with a shot gun they are not going to be giving you any more trouble. There
is a lot of talk about penetration (into walls etc.) but trust me birdshot is not the way to go. Most home defense preppers prefer 00 gauge buckshot for its stopping power. Shot gun ammo is relatively cheap and sold everywhere. Unlike going to the range with an AR-15, you don’t need nearly as much ammo
to be well prepared.
There is a lot of talk from naysayers on the spread of buckshot but in a close quarters home defense situation, I do not think you need to worry about that. Most of the issues with
spread come in the 50 – 75 yard range.
That said do not believe the myths about “the good thing with a shot gun is you don’t have to aim at
your target”. Like all weapons the more training you do with your weapon the more effective your
shooting will be. You would greatly benefit from taking a tactical shotgun course.
In a shtf home bug in scenario, a hand gun is useful to keep on you at all times. It’s so much easier to go about your daily life with one strapped to you then carrying a shot gun or rifle all through the day and night. Your two choices in hand guns are going to be a revolver or a semi-automatic. If you are new to hand guns and do not have much experience or training then I would definitely suggest you start
with a revolver. They are a lot simpler to use and have less moving parts, so much less can go wrong.
The last thing you need is to have a shootout with someone trying to break in and have your handgun
jam up on you with no clue how to clear it.
The only down side to a revolver versus a semi-automatic is the capacity or how many bullets the gun
has. A revolver has six only.
A semi-automatic can have up to 14 rounds. Again training comes into play here. I have seen people fire off six shots in the heat of action and all miss their target.
Most common rounds for handguns are 9mm, .45 and .40. I would recommend any
preppers avoid purchasing a .44 magnum or a desert eagle as it is just too much gun for a close quarters situation. The last thing you need is to miss your target and end up penetrating your neighbors’ wall and killing poor Mr. Jones next door.
If you are concerned about the over penetration of a 12 gauge filled with 00 buck gauge shot keep, in
mind that most AR-15 bullets will break up hitting the wood paneling of an apartment inner wall much
more likely than shot will.
That said, it is VITAL to have drills for an attack scenario. Perhaps it’s your wife’s job to confirm the kids are behind you in a safe part of the house. (see below for more info on drills and training).
I am not joking – even to play “grid down” for 24 hours is really tough. Our brains have become so
hard wired to electronic stimulation, the internet, cat videos, cell phones, texting, etc, going without can cause serious detox side effects.
Imagine spending a month bugging in trying to remain quiet and not alerting others to the fact you have
food, water and power? It’s not easy but it is do-able. Stock up on cards, card games (I picked up a
cheap chess set from my 99 cent store for this very purpose). If you are bugging in with kids, lots of
coloring books and some board games. For teens – oof, that is going to be a very hard one. Perhaps diaries or journals for girls and involve teen boys in helping you keep security flowing. Paperback
books for all ages and interests for everyone in the family help too. Have a variety of old favorites and new ones that people have not read before.
With all that said look at the early settlers – they made do without all this technology. Again it is
something to practice before any real crisis hits.
Extreme Weather Hot/Cold
Anyone who lives in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, the North East of the US and pretty much all of
Canada knows that it can get soooo cold in the winter time. If you find yourself in a grid down situation during the winter time you will need to stay warm. Of course in a bug in situation chances are you are likely going to have access to your winter wardrobe (unless of course you have so many clothes you do what some New Yorkers do and keep their winter/summer clothes in storage – depending on the season.
Lots of light layers is best – when I was in NYC I often would have up to 4 layers on – thermal shirt, t-shirt, sweater then coat. Gloves and mittens will probably need to be worn too. If you do find yourself bugging in with no power mid-winter try to have the family stick to one room – say the living room and keep the door closed to trap the warmth in. Again if we go back and look at the early settlers we know that it’s a lot easier to keep a one room cabin where people cooked, ate and slept warm mid-winter than a 3000 sq ft McMansion.
Extreme Hot Weather
In some ways it can be more insufferable bugging in when you are in a hot climate say the South West
of the USA (Southern California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona etc) After all you can only take off so
many clothes! Best to wear light fitting linens that let your skin breathe and to make sure you stay very hydrated. Early settlers to Arizona would wet a sheet at night and hang it in a door way to catch a breeze to stay cool (this was long before the invention of air conditioners by the way.) In extreme
temperatures bugging in I prefer to wear light weight sporting shorts and a sleeveless tank top – for
some reason not having sleeves on seems to keep me so much cooler. Not sure on the science of this
but it totally works for me! 🙂
If you are bugging in during a heat wave, happened to me in August 2002 when the New York State
power grid went down – due to it being so antiquated and so many people running A/Cs all at once, one
of the best things you can do to sleep is to sleep on your floor – or pull the mattress off you bed and
sleep lower to the ground. It really does make a huge difference due to hot air rising.
Everyone’s situation is going to be different: depending on their location and even if they have a garage or park on the street or their lawn. After bugging in for 30 days, your car may not be where you left it, or it may not work (if there has been an EMP attack and you have a new car with an on board
computer). If you have street parking someone might be desperate enough to attempt to steal your car
to bug out while you bug in. Be prepared to store your car somewhere safe if you do not have a garage
or perhaps even have bug out plans that do not include using your car. Again, everyone’s situation is going to be different – when I lived in NYC we did not own a car. It was easier to travel by Subway
Escape and Evasion
E&E as it is known is very important in a suburban home bug in scenario. Worst case scenario,
someone gets wind that you are well stocked with food in your house and wants to come and relieve
you of it and it ends up looking like they might breech your security measures. Then it’s crucial that
you and your family have a couple of escape routes mapped out already and that you practice doing
them (see training/ drills below).
If you have young children you need to know you can get them out safely in the event of a hungry mob
trying to break in. In my old house, the plan was if the front door was breached,
we would exit out a rear window and slip out of a back yard via an exit we had set up hidden in our garden. Then to make it down to a corner of the local park two blocks away.
You might need a rope ladder to get out of any upper bedrooms if that is where you find yourself
trapped. How many times have you seen a movie where someone leaps from an upper window to
escape the relentless killer and they sprain or injure their ankle?
You may also up having to leave through the front door if people are trying to enter via the back of your place.
It is also important to plot out a safe meeting point (for us it was a local park a short walk away). For anyone who is a fan of the zombie TV show The Walking Dead, you will note that in Season 2 when
they were staying at Hershel’s farm the meeting point was the abandoned cars on the highway, where as
it certainly appears in Season 4 of the Walking Dead when the prison was breached by the Governor’s
forces – they had no prearranged meeting point and the survivors group was left wandering aimlessly,
leaving them vulnerable to other predatory groups and walkers.
A safe place could be a friendly neighbors place down the street or in our case it was a self-storage
locker up the street that we had packed with bug out bags.
The best soldiers in the world spend all their time, (when they are not at war), drilling and training
different tactical scenarios.
I highly recommend you spend a weekend every couple of months rehearsing a grid-down type scenario – no need to bolt in the wood to your windows but you could try a day and a night with no power, no cell phones, no video games, no tv, no internet. Cook and eat meals from your bug in supply, either MRE’s cooked in the bag or meals over a single hot plate (sterno can etc).
I guarantee you after the first 2-3 hrs you will be desperate to check your emails or update your
Facebook, but the aim of the game is to go 24 hours without succumbing. You will soon see that we
have all pretty much become reliant on modern amenities. This is a great way to see how much light
your flashlights and reading lamps illuminate and you will also see which freeze dried meals you love
(and hate)! If you live in your apartment with your family – you can tell your kids it’s a game and get
them to play along with you. Be sure to make a mental note after your 24 or 48 hours, what areas of
your prepping need improvement and what ones you got right.
And finally the most important point: Networking
Like I said at the start of this course I think yes, you can successfully bug in to an house for a medium amount of time (say 2-4 weeks), but I do think that in the advent of a long-term crisis it’s going to be hard, very hard. It means having a food supply and a reliable water source, which as opposed to hunkering down in an apartment could be do-able bugging into a suburban home. Especially if your preps include a rain water storage system and a back yard garden. In general I believe after years of watching how the general public behave and the fact that most families keep no more than 3 days food
in their house at any given time – that things will get scary, very scary within the first week and by
about week 4 those who are still left in your neighborhood would have settled down, either by
resigning to their fate or by leaving the area in search of food and other essentials. Your best bet in
riding out a suburban collapse is to stay off the radar as much as possible. Having a cook out with some nice juicy steaks whilst the rest of the neighborhood is going without will end up with you having to feed a couple of 100 unwanted guests.
Truth be told to successfully bunker down I don’t think you can do it alone – you have to have a support group, whether that is someone like minded in your own family (younger brother, etc) or someone in your secondary family ( your wife’s brother etc). Think about it if you have a young family you can’t expect them to do much more to help you then to keep an eye out for strangers in the back yard. A
second set of trained eyes and ears focusing on your back yard, while you take care of the front (or
whilst you sleep) is going to come in very handy.
If you , like many Americans live nowhere near the rest of your family, or your family thinks preppers
and the prepper lifestyle is something kooks with tin foil hats are into then you need to network with
like minded souls especially ones in your local neighborhood.
When the economic collapsed happened in Argentina at the beginning of this millennium there were
cases of armed bandits pulling a home invasion on one house on the block, perhaps killing the men and
raping the women then using that house as base whilst they took their time plundering and pillaging the
rest of the block.
If you have a network of like minded souls living in your area it would not be hard to pull a couple of
cars across the road to work as a blockade, to slow any roving mobs down, or at least if they had to
shunt the cars out of the way it would wake everyone to the fact they were near by. There really is
strength in numbers. Plus when plotting out safe houses in case yours does get raided a supportive like
minded nearby neighbor is going to come in handy.
Worst case scenario if you live in an area where you just cannot find like minded neighbors and your
family lives too far away you can try to fake that your house has been ransacked already. By throwing
trash and other garbage (perhaps an old tv and stereo system you have had stored in the basement) old clothes etc it will look like the mob has already been through your house and taken anything of value.
You will just have to make sure to stay out of sight and not appear to well fed if your neighbors do spot you. In New Orleans after Katrina rescue workers were marking doors of places where there were dead inside. You could consider taking a leaf out of the TV show The Walking Dead and spray over your
boarded up front door “Don’t open – Dead inside”.
A couple of ideas on Networking that can help you if can’t easily find people who are on the same page
1. There are plenty of forums and Facebook groups you can join and participate in. Once you do, you
will be surprised to find out how many like-minded people live close to you.
2. If your neighborhood has block parties or BBQ’s and you think people are open to talk – feel them
out by asking “Have you ever seen that show – Doomsday Preppers? What do you think of that?” If
they say those people are a bunch of kooks then you know they are not going to be open to any further
discussions in keeping your neighborhood or building safe and secure. These are not the people to
On the other hand if you have any emergency service workers, ex-military or cops living on your street,
they might be ideal to become friends with. They have emergency training, access to communications
that regular Joes like you and I don’t have and access to legal firearms in many places with strict gun
laws. Of course you are not going to instantly connect with everyone you meet but the idea is to start
now. As corny as the old saying is “there really is strength in numbers,” and in a long -term bug out –
you can’t just go it alone or with your immediate family. The more like minded people you have pulling
together in the common goal of survival the better off you and your family will be.
It also goes without saying that anyone who is not “in” on your plans does not need to know you have a
couple of month’s worth of water or food stored in your home. They will be the first ones to come
knocking on your door begging for a hand out if things get ugly.
Ultimately if a crisis continues with no sign of being rectified over time then you are going to have to get the heck out of dodge sooner or later. You will have to bug out but that’s a whole different can of worms
Check List of items you may not have thought of:
Dental floss and tooth paste – nothing more miserable than tooth problems post collapse – look after
Kitty litter – even if you do not have a cat. Kitty litter has many uses for a prepper
Matches/fire starting kits
Paper plates, bowls and plastic silverware
Dish-washing liquid and dish washing gloves
Plastic buckets – for washing clothes and handling sewage
Hand sanitizers – saves on water when washing of hands
Spare flashlights and batteries
Rechargeable drill and screws
Manual can openers – not electric ones for obvious reasons!
Well that’s it for now – please feel free to email me any time with any questions that you may have and
again thank you so much in purchasing this course.
Stay safe out there folks!
Alex the Prepper
I originally wrote this as a request from one of my readers who wanted a guide on everything to do with fresh water for his homestead. After working on it – I thought to myself “why not share this on your blog for others out there who are interested?” So here you go – its long for a blog post so you may want to download a pdf of it or book mark this page and come back to it. As always leave me any questions in the comments section below.
As most of my readers know I grew up in Australia before moving to the Northern Hemisphere 26 years ago. Australia is pretty much the same size land mass as the lower 48 states of the USA, yet we have less people than the state of California with most of those people living very close to the coasts. The number one reason for this is, lack of a decent water supply in the inland areas. Without fresh water there is no life. Australian fresh water supplies coupled with a growing population since I left the country have meant heavy financial investments in desalination plants. Which are basically ways to turn Sea water into Fresh water at a very very expensive price. Can you imagine what happens to these water supplies in a long term grid down situation? Yup you guessed it. All gone. Those who are not prepared will be S.O.O.L. (Sh*t out of luck)
My mother traveled through Papua New Guinea in the early 1960s and saw tribal warfare over who got to control the local watering hole! Forget Mad Max style marauding gangs for “Gazzolene” for their muscle cars! Without fresh water they won’t be alive to get their precious gas.
Ok you say, that’s Australia, most of the country is pretty much desert – that can’t happen here in the U.S of A. Wrong. just look at what is going on in California and most of the Nation’s southwest for that matter. The very same thing that I have seen for years in Australia. Water shortages, lake’s drying up, farm land turning to dust bowls. Things are getting bad and in my opinion only going to get worse. Its up to us to take the right steps to ensure that our families are taken care of in times of drought or disaster.
In this blog post we are going to cover the following important water topics for Homesteaders.
* How to Collect Rain water
* How to purify water from lakes, streams and rivers
* How to disinfect your own well.
* How to check a potential property for a Seep or Spring
* How To Daisy Chain Rain Water Barrels together
* How to dig for a well
* How to keep water safe over a long periods of time
* How to test if you water is safe to drink
* Is Collecting your own Rainwater illegal?
How to Collect Rain water
In my opinion the most ideal water supply set up for us homesteaders is a gravity fed spring water supply. Not every property is going to have this so next best scenario would be a fresh water well, followed by a rain catchment system. Now you see why I am saying if you are currently located in the Southwest you might seriously want to consider moving to some where there are far more abundant water sources.
If you do find you have a fresh water spring on your property do make sure that any feeder pipes that you have going to your water holding tank are covered with screens to act as filters for any debris that may end up blocking your pipes . Speaking of holding tanks – we went for a concrete one. From some of the homesteaders I talked to regarding plastic holding tanks versus concrete ones they found that plastic ones did not fair so well buried in the ground. We have a 1500 gallon one on our property, price wise you can pick up a 1500 plastic holding tank for about $750 but a concrete one will set you back approximately $1750. Its the old adage though that you get what you pay for. My mind set right now is I would rather pay extra now for something that will last my lifetime versus saving $1000 only to have it fall to bits, no doubt at the most in-opportune time.
Even though gravity feed is ideal I would also like to suggest that you install a pressure pump system too. While I truly believe that you should be 100% off grid and self sufficient the amount of energy a pressure pump system uses to have water pressure just like your suburban home or apartment is miniscule. I am literally talking a couple of minutes a day. If the grid was to really go down long term using a pressure pump system with a solar battery pack would really not be much of a drain at all compared to the convenience it offers.
If you have been reading my guides for any length of time you know that I am huge believer in back up supply systems, we also went with a rain water catchment tank system as a back up supply of water for our homestead.
How to purify water from lakes, streams and rivers
I would like to think that everyone understands the health risks of drinking polluted water and the fact that even though water might look “clean” it may contain Bacteria, E.coli, Coliforms, Nitrates and other nasties that remain unseen with the human eye. Dirty water can cause, nausea, cramps vomiting and diarrhea which can be deadly for young children and the elderly. So its extremely important to understand how to clean your water to make it safe for drinking
There are pretty much six tried and tested ways to purify water for drinking purposes. For watering your garden, washing clothes, and showering you can be a little more lax on your purification methods, but still I believe its of importance to stay safe. All you need in a long term grid down situation is to mess up and swallow some unclean water while showering and get yourself bedridden for days on end. Not worth the risk in my opinion. Before we being I hope everyone knows WHY we need to purify our water before consumption? If not lets quickly review the little unseen nasties that can exist in our water supplies, whether from a nearby lake or stream, rain water storage or your preferred method of water storage. They are Bacteria, Protozoa, Parasites and Viruses.
Boiling water is the worlds oldest known method of making water safe to drink. If you are stuck in a jam and your water supply is in question a metallic pot with a nice seal-able lid and a heat source (gas source, camp fire, etc) will see you right. A seal-able lid is advisable not only because you bring your water to boil faster using less energy but you can let it sit and cool to one side after the water has boiled. Contrary to popular opinion you really only need to boil your water for a minute or two, to kill any pathogens in it, boiling it for 30 minutes at a time is over kill and in a grid down situation is not very functional either esp if you are relying on a wood fire to purify your water.
In the modern age one of the easiest and simplest ways to purify your water super is to use household bleach. Make sure you get the kind that has no dyes, perfumes,or phosphates in it. Just plain simple bleach that you can find at your local supermarket or dollar store. It goes without saying that if you were to sit there and chug a couple of pints of bleach you would more than likely get seriously ill. Although I doubt you would die. However in very small amounts bleach is probably the number one method most homesteaders use when it comes to making sure their water supply is safe to drink. The general rule of thumb is 2-4 drops per quart of water and let it sit for 30 minutes. If you water is cold it is advisable to use a couple more drops and or let it sit for a bit longer. I usually go for 1 hour tops on cold water.
I also think that it is worth mentioning – if you are in a bind say your well or water storage tanks have been compromised and you are going for lake or stream water, it is best to do some serious filtering first. As a general rule the chunks of plant life etc that you find when you scoop say, lake water will not kill you it is of course all the little unseen bacteria and parasites that will get ya. However if you use Bleach to purify your water the chemicals in bleach can bond with some of the harmless particle matter in lake water rendering it ineffective for killing parasites and viruses. So strain thru a t-shirt, or even a home made water filter before adding your bleach to your water.
* Iodine treatments
Iodine is another chemical treatment method of purifying your water supply. Iodine treatments kills bacteria, parasites and virus’s but doesn’t kill protoazas. The most commonly sold bottles of Iodine are the 5-7% solutions but for water purification only a 2% solution is needed. The general rule is 20 drops of iodine per 1 gallon of water and let it sit for 30 minutes, however if your water is cloudy looking or suspect you will need to leave it for longer. I would suggest filtering any cloudy water before begging your iodine treatment – if you are in a jam even using a t-shirt (or any woven material you have to hand) to strain your water before commencing treatment will help. The same goes with cold water which you will need to leave your iodine in for up to 3 hrs to be effective in killing pathogens. The down side with Iodine purification of water is that some people do have an allergy to it and might be best served using the bleach method mentioned above. Also you will notice on the bottles of iodine tincture there is a little skull and cross bones dangerous if ingested warning, this of course if taken in large does (undiluted) with all that in mind I would not use iodine treated water for more than 30 days straight. Its worth me mentioning too, always go for the bottle and not the iodine tablets they sell in camping and prepping stores, they can easily go bad with heat or poor storage conditions.
Pretty much any time I pick up a prepping magazine these days I see one of those ads for those portable filters, that look like oversized straws that hikers, campers and survivalists can carry in their bug out bag. Designed for people to be able to grab safe drinking water from even a filthy puddle of water when on the move. They are supposed to be able to filter out dangerous waterborne pathogens for the user. For Homesteading purposes filters work in a similar fashion to these, however I do want to point out that filtering water of sediment , toxic chemicals and pollutants will not always take care of nasty viruses. For that you need a purifier after your filter.
For off grid living, Gravity fed water filters are the best bet, even if you are still using the cities power lines, keep in mind that in a long term grid down situation all your electric powered filters and pumps will be rending useless. Most times after a serious natural disaster when the city power lines go – so does the water supply, you run the risk of not just sewage waste backing up and ruining your water supply but also even dead bodies. Think the Tsunami disaster in Indonesia and Thailand or the Japanese earthquake /tsunami disaster. A solar powered pump / filter combo actually uses very little energy and should be seriously considered over relying on the cities power supply.
Large size water storage tanks and filters can be purchased relatively cheaply from your local Home Depot, Lowes Home building supplies store. The more expensive the water filter the more effective it will be , I have to add that even with the top of the line models the filters will wear out over time and need replacing. The more effort you can take before your water enters your filtering system to remove sediment and pond scum the longer they will last. From all the homesteaders I know the general consensus with them all is that gravity fed filtering systems are the way to go.
Distilling water requires boiling it and catching the steam. The process removes salts, Heavy metals and toxic chemicals in your water. Very similar to water desalination plants that convert Salt water to fresh water its an energy extensive method of creating safe drinking water, but beats drinking salt water when dehydrated, which can be very deadly. An example of a home created distilling water process would be to have a large metal pot half filled with your unclean water, on a fire or stove with a sealable pot lid tipped upside down with a smaller pot hung from the upside lid handle to catch the water droplets as they reach the lid and slide down towards the center.
* Ultraviolet Light
Using UV rays from the sun has been a method of creating safe drinking water for over 4000 years now. Records show the people of Ancient India utilizing this method back then. Using UV rays kills the waterborne pathogens that can cause, Diarrhea, Ecoli, Salmonella and more. This method isn’t advisable for those of us in the frozen north (where we have an abundance of woods to use in water boiling methods anyways) but much more suited for homesteaders based in the Southwest or Australia.
Anyways with that said the basic method require you filling up a clear plastic water bottle (do not use colored plastic bottles as they have a tendency to not let the necessary UV rays in and the sun’s handiwork will not be effective.) and laying them on its side in the sun usually for about 5-6 hours. Try to not use bottles big than a liter as this method is most effective in smaller size bottles. You also don’t want to lay your bottles out say in the morning sun as when the sun swing around from the East then you will not be getting the full effects of the suns rays. A south face roof top would be ideal. Also keep in mind the following :
1) placing the bottles directly on a very hot metal roof may cause them to warp or be damaged
2) placing the bottles on paper or dry grass may cause the grass or paper to catch fire. Surely everyone remembers starting fires with a magnifying glass when they were a kid..don’t they?.
If you do not have any 1 liter or smaller plastic bottles heavy duty freezer bags will work just as well, in fact some people say better as they lay flat on the surface and there for the water get more evenly blasted by the suns rays.(again quart or maximum gallon size bags only !
If you are traveling or bugging out to your homestead during a disaster you may want to invest in a Steripen. It’s a small hand held device that uses ultraviolet light to make safe drinking water for yourself. Depending on your situation and budget you may want to consider purchasing one they can be picked up for anything between $49-$99.
* Chemical purification tablets
Iodine treatment (mentioned above is one form of Chemical purification method) there are various other treatments (such as chlorine tablets etc) that can be purchased from camping and sporting stores. I would only recommend these for people with allergies to Iodine and only for small does of water. Eg if you are bugging out to your homestead.
* Life straw
No one water purification treatment is ideal in eradicating 100% of the nasties that threaten you and your families health and well being. When it comes to this KEY resource always be safe and over cautious, taking extra care and diligence in purifying your water whatever method you prefer. Leaving your water bottles out in the sun for an extra hour because you were worried that the sun went behind a couple of clouds earlier in the day is a minor inconvenience versus fighting off Dysentery right?
How to disinfect your own well.
Well water can become contaminated over time. I would recommend picking up some household well water test kits – you can grab them for under $20 from Amazon (click here) These affordable kits will show you if there are any toxins in your well and they also show you dangerous bacteria levels too.
You can disinfect your well using the bleach method mentioned above. Before you start you will need a gallon of non scented household bleach , rubber gloves, safety goggles (or some form of eye protection) a plastic funnel and some old clothes (as to not damage your good ones).
1.Before you begin if your well water is cloudy or muddy run the water from an outside spigot with a hose attached until the water becomes clear.
2.Check what type of well you have and the best way to pour the bleach in. For example some well’s have sanitary seals so you will have to remove those before you add the bleach. Others may just have an entire cover you can lift off to add your bleach.
Take your bleach and carefully pore it into your well. Use your funnel if needed
After the gallon of bleach has been added, run an outside hose into the well casing until you smell the chlorine from the bleach coming from the hose
turn on every cold water faucet connected to your water supply and let it run until you smell the chlorine then shut it off. If you have a water treatment system switch it to bypass until you have finished.
Wait 12-24 hrs before using your water system again. Right now your system contains high amounts of Chlorine and will not be safe to drink.
Once the waiting period is over run a hose to a safe area where it will not affect your plants, lakes, streams or septic system, until you cannot smell chlorine anymore. Your water is now safe to use.
Its recommended to retest your water supply 7-10 days after disinfecting to see if there is any bacteria remaining. Use the kits that I talked about above.
How to check a potential property for a Seep or Spring
the best time to review potential sites for your off grid cabin is during the late summer and early Autumn. If you check properties in the winter or spring time you are going to see the best case scenario for water supplies on that piece of land which will not really give you the fairest indication of the water supply potential. Ask the realtor to show you the seep or spring,, if they’re not much help then search for depressions in the land that appear extra green or the earth is mossy and soft.. Any signs of vegetation changes in a piece of land are pretty good indicators of a seep or spring so keep your eyes open. If the property has a seep but not a spring it can still be used as a potential water supply. My way of testing the strength of a seep is to use a gallon water bottle or jug and time how long it takes to fill up. For example 2 minutes to fill a gallon jig is a pretty good yard stick. Mountain type terrain with a water supply is a great way to have a gravity fed spring – so keep that in mind.
How To Daisy Chain Rain Water Barrels together
If you want to collect rainwater from your roof to use for watering your gardens and you live in a climate with a decent rainfall you have probably thought about connecting more than one 55 gallon barrel together to save your water. This is a great idea and relatively simple and fairly low cost to do. Even though I can this water is not going to be collected for drinking I do suggest that if your budget allows it to purchase brand new FOOD GRADE water barrels and not pick up free ones from craigslist or used ones from ebay. In my opinion the risk of using barrels that may have stored toxic chemicals or waste is just not worth the cost of a few hundred dollars. (You can purchase 55 gallon food grade water drums for about $70 each at home depot.)
There are two main ways to daisy chain the barrels together – one school of thought is to cut the over flow holes near the top of each barrel and the other at the bottom. I have only tried the top (over flow method) so I can’t really say whats best, but people that I spoke to were pretty evenly split on which method they preferred. Make sure that before you start that you have enough space near one of your house’s gutters and that the space is level and clear of all debris. Pretty much everyone I spoke to used cinder blocks or wooden pallets to elevate their 55 gallon drums off the ground.
I started with the first drum I purchased an Atrium grate from Home depot (which costs about $4.00) and turned it upside and drew around the widest part to trace where I would cut the top of my collection barrel as a template. An Atrium grate is used to keep leaves, sticks twigs etc out of your water barrels. If you live in an area which is besieged by mosquitoes it is highly advisable to cover your grate in drain sleeve a fine cloth that’s used to prevent them getting into your barrel and laying their eggs in the water.
About 6 inches down from the top of the first barrel and on the side I drilled a hole using a 3/4” spade drill bit to act as the over flow outlet. Using 3/4” garden hose adapters I screwed into the hole , and I used plumbers putty to seal the adapter with a locking nut on the inside of each barrel. Then I measured off a length of garden hose that would reach each adjoining barrel and used a female hose adapter to attach the hose to the barrel. You can then repeat for each respective drum. I used a spigot set up at the bottom of my final barrel to be able to run off the chain and to fill buckets and watering cans for my vegetable gardens.
Tip for those of you living in cold climates: If you have freezing temperatures in the winter, you definitely want to drain the barrels, and leave the valve open, Divert all the water from going into the barrels in the winter, otherwise your plumbing on the bottom will burst when the water in it freezes.
How to dig for a well
Hiring a company to come out and dig a well on your property if there isn’t one there already can prove to be a costly affair, with local companies quoting me around $5000 to get it all done for you.
Before you get started you will need to check with your state’s geological survey department to find out what type of soil you have on your property. Obviously drilling down through sandy/loamy soil is going to be easier than clay and rocky soil. They can advise you on how deep you will have to drill down tp find quality water on your property. It is worth mentioning that why you may get lucky and find a decent water supply at say 30ft down, most quality well water (at least from the homesteaders that I talked to was found at around the 100ft level.
State by state there are different rulings on set backs (how far your well must be away from your septic tank or sewer lines) and a quick search on the internet for your specific state for your requirements shouldn’t take you long, but as a general rule you want to be at least 50 ft away from your septic tank and on higher ground as well. You will also want to check before you start drilling that there are no utility lines or existing pipes below that you may damage once you have figured out your drill site.
Depending on how far out you are in your country you may or may not require a building permit before you start to drill your well.
I actually like their method a lot – no hiring of rigs and heavy equipment to master. Its a simple system with a drill and air hose that pumps the water up and out creating a vacuum so that your drill bit doesn’t get stuck in the mud. If this sounds like something that interests you then go to their website (link above) where they have a couple of videos explaining how it works in detail. Its definitely a low cost alternative to hiring heavy duty equipment and a bunch of guys to dig your well for you.
How to keep water safe over a long periods of time
* Outside of having your own well, water tank or spring I think it pays to have some water stored away separately in the event of emergencies. Most homesteaders and preppers that I spoke to whilst working on this guide recommend a minimum of a two week supply of water stored , ideally more if you have the room. Working on the gallon per person, per day rule that works out to be 14 gallons for 2 weeks water so if you are part of a 4 person family you are going to AT LEAST need 56 gallons stored for a 2 week period.
Best bet for keeping your water safe over a long period of time is food grade plastic 55 gallon containers, you can find them for sale online for less than $100, I would definitely go for new and not used in this scenario. Steel 55 gallon drums are no good as chlorine (which you will use to treat your water damages the steel)
I would definitely suggest that do not use a common garden hose to fill your water bottles but a dedicated drinking water hose which you can find on Amazon from about $10 and up. (depending on the length required etc)
Dedicated drinking water hoses are lead free, BPA free, phthalate free and don’t give your that weird plastic taste you used to get as a kid drinking from the garden hose on hot days.
There are two school of thought when it comes to long term storage of water and treatment with chlorine, many preppers believe that if you use city supplied tap water to fill your barrels that you do not need to include any added chlorine to your tanks since city water is already heavily chlorinated. However if you are using water from your well to store I do believe its wise to add some chlorine to your barrels. Keep in mind water does not spoil, its CONTAMINATION that makes it go bad. So be sure to seal your barrels correctly after filling.
Some of the homesteaders that I talked to like to store their plastic water barrels on wooden pallets in their garage as opposed to letting the containers sit directly on their concrete floor, this is done out of the belief that there could be a potential chemical reaction between the concrete and water barrels, which I am not entirely convinced is necessary. But hey if it helps you sleep at night its a low cost step to take.
How to test if you water is safe to drink
The easiest and simplest way to test if your water is safe to drink is the DIY test kits that you can find these days available on Amazon. They are going to set you back about $17 and are very easy to use. However they are not always 100% accurate in general they will give you the general idea if your water is safe or not. They test for Ph levels, chlorine levels pesticides, lead, nitrates and of course bacteria.
Search on Amazon for “First Alert WT1 Drinking Water Test Kit”.
I must add that no cheap DIY test kit is going to be as detailed and as accurate in their analysis as a full blown lab that tests for everything but in a grid down situation I do not think any of these labs will be open for business even if you could afford their fees, if you get what I am saying.
Is Collecting your own Rainwater illegal?
If you have spent anytime at all on the internet and Facebook in the last 2 years I am sure you have seen articles or links that friends have posted and shared about someone getting arrested or even imprisoned for collecting their own rainwater! Most of these sensationalistic articles are designed for nothing more than to get you to click the link (these are called “click bait” in the blogging business) they are pretty much all a re-hash of the same thing exaggerated claims backed up by little and or no facts.
The truth is rainwater harvesting is NOT ILLEGAL. It has been restricted in some states but even those states (Utah, Washington State and Colorado) have relaxed their laws in recent years. In some other states rain water harvesting is regulated, meaning you will have to obtain a permit to do so no different then getting a building permit to work on your house. If you have seen the article about the Colorado man who WAS jailed he had applied for his permit, got denied But went ahead and built 3 reservoirs regardless. That was his real crime, not collecting rainwater. If you are still concerned make sure you contact your local state authorities and double check what the laws are in your particular state.
Water is essential for all living things, without it we die. I truly believe that as the world goes on we are going to have more and more issues with our personal water supplies. Higher costs in getting water from the city, more recycled water and a lot more de-salinated water as well. If you have yet to purchase your own homestead I sincerely urge you to make sure it is in an area with a good annual rainfall and ideally the property has its own well or spring. Far better to take these steps now instead of leaving it for a few more years where properties with well will only increase in price far faster than those without.
As always thanks for reading and do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions