Preparing Your Basic Survival Stash
● Food Storage
● Water Storage and Purification
● Survival Shelters
If you've given any thought to survival, you know the big three -- food, water and shelter -- are the foundation of any long-term survival plan. If you prepare to provide these three items for yourself and loved ones, you are farther ahead than probably 90 percent of the public.
Many would say water is the most important of the three, but we'll address them in the order above: Food, water and shelter.
You may be able to survive a few weeks or even a month with no food, but why would you want to? With no food, you will become weak, susceptible to illnesses, dizzy and unable to perform survival-related tasks. Sure, water may be more critical to short-term survival, but it's much easier for even the unskilled survivalist to find water in the wild (the safety and purity of the water is another story, but we'll tackle that next).
This section will deal with several key areas:
● How much food do you need?
❍ Why so much food?
❍ Using and storing traditional, commercial foods
● Rotating foods
❍ Baking items
● Special "survivalist" foods
● Home-made survival foods
● Hunting and gathering in the wild
How Much Food do you Need?
Here's the short answer: You can never have too much food stored away for hard times. How much is the minimum for you and your potential survival situation is an answer you'll have to come up with after reviewing the table you developed in Part 1. (You did do that exercise, didn't you?)
Will three days of food be enough, as many suggest? Or do you need a year's worth? The Warrior Class can't tell you what's best in your situation, but suggests that two weeks or more is the minimum for anyone in any potential survival situation. One to three months? Now you are talking. A year? Let's hope you never need it. A year may be excessive for most, but hey, better safe than sorry (have you heard that one before?) If you are wondering how you can afford a month's worth of food.
Why should you stock up on so much food if the worst you are planning to prepare for is a heavy winter storm? Several reasons:
● It may take a while for store shelves to be replenished. Think back to the heavy storms that hit the East Coast in the winter of 1995-96. 30 inches in cities such as Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia shut the city down for more than a week. And the trucks carrying supplies were stranded on the side of an interstate highway somewhere in the midwest.
● You may be asked to feed friends or neighbors. Think how you'd feel if on the sixth day of the storm you and your family were enjoying a delicious, rich, beef stew while poor old Mrs. Frugal next door was down to a used tea bag and the bread crusts she usually gives the birds? Or what if friends were visiting for the weekend and unable to return home because of the inclement weather, earthquake or other emergency?
● Food rarely goes down in price. What you buy now will be an investment in the future. If you shop carefully over time, you store plenty of goods on sale or at The WarriorClass club prices.
● You will be protected from price gouging. Do you really think the last load of milk and bread in stores before the storm hits will be discounted? Shelves are often cleared out right before a blizzard or hurricane is set to hit. And food isn't the only item likely to be in short supply; one grocery chain reported that when storm warnings went out, they sold more rolls of toilet paper than there were people in the city. Batteries, bottled water, candles and other staples are also going to be in short supply (see the next chapter for more on non-food survival items).
● You will be prepared for a crippling blow to our food supply system. As I write this, many are predicting our food supply is tottering on its last legs. Whether its a drought (like we saw in 1996 in Texas and Oklahoma), a wheat blight, the destruction of traditional honey bees necessary for crop fertilization or simply the world's exploding population, they will tell you our food system is falling apart. The Warrior Class will let you make up your own mind, but wouldn't a few hundred pounds of red winter wheat and other grains sealed in 5 gallon buckets make you feel better?
Let's say you decide to start small and plan to stock up a week's worth of food for your family. While the "survivalist" foods such as MRE's are a great supplement, you should be able to get by for this short a time (a week or two) on the traditional, commercial foods in your larder.
This existing food reserve should not include food in your refrigerator or freezer because you cannot count on those items remaining edible for more than a day (fridge) or three (freezer), at most. So half a cow or deer in the freezer is great, but you may have to cook, smoke and/or can it on short notice, should the power be out for a long time.
A quick examination of your cupboards and cabinets will tell you how much you need to add to ensure you have enough food for a week. If you have a few packages of pasta, some cans of vegetables, a box of crackers and a jar of peanut butter, you are halfway there. But if you have a habit of dropping by the deli every time you are hungry, or shopping for the evening meal on your way home from work (as many single, urban dwellers do), you'll need to change your habits and stock up.
A detailed list of suggestions and food storage information is available in the Food Storage FAQ but you should generally buy canned (including items in jars) or dried foods. Review our list of commercial food items and their suggested storage times when making up your personal list but keep in mind your family's eating habits, likes and dislikes. Also,
remember that you may not have access to a microwave and other modern conveniences, so pick food items and packaging that can be prepared on a single burner of a camp stove or even over an open fire.
The main difference between the commercially prepared foods you buy in the grocery store and the specially prepared "survival" foods is the shelf storage. You can't store grocery store items for five to ten years, as you can with specially freeze-dried or sealed foods packed in nitrogen or vacuum sealed. As a result, if you go with a larder full of grocery items, you can't develop your food stash and walk away. You need to rotate your stock, either on an ongoing basis or every two to three months. This will ensure you have fresh food (if you can consider canned and dry food "fresh") and do not waste your food and money.
There are many systems for rotating your stock:
● The Warrior Class finds the easiest is to put newly purchase foods at the rear of the shelf, thus ensuring the oldest food, which will have made it's way to the front, will be consumed first.
● You can also number food packages with consecutive numbers (a "one" the first time you bring home spaghetti sauce, a "two" the next, etc.) and eat those with the lowest number first.
● If you store your survival stash in a special location, you'll need to physically remove and replace 20 to 25 percent of it every two months (thus ensuring nothing sits for more than eight or 10 months). The materials you remove should be placed in your kitchen for immediate consumption.
As a general rule, traditional canned foods should be consumed within a year. For cans with expiration dates, such as Campbell's soups, you may find you have 18 months or two years before they expire. But for cans with no a date, or with a code that consumers can't translate, mark them with the date purchased and make sure you eat them before a year passes.
Generally, canned foods will not "go bad" over time, unless the can is punctured. But the food will loose its taste, the texture will deteriorate, and the nutritional value drops significantly over time.
If you find you have a case of canned peas, for example, that are nine or 10 months old, simply donate the to a soup kitchen, Boy Scout food drive or similar charity. This will keep them from being wasted and give you a tax deductible donation.
Simple raw materials for baking, such as flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, oil and shortening, can be assets in a survival situation. With these staple items, you can make everything from pancakes or rolls to breading fresh fish.
For those looking for a simpler answer, mixes for muffins, corn bread and pancakes mean you do not need to add eggs or measure ingredients. These ready-made or pre-mixed ingredients can be a boon. Of course, you may need a Dutch oven or griddle for that stove or fireplace.
For long-term survival storage, honey stores for years and can replace sugar in recipes. Rather than storing flour or meal, purchase the raw grain and a hand mill. Then you can mill your own flour whenever necessary. Red winter wheat, golden wheat, corn and other grains can be purchased in 45-pound lots packed in nitrogen-packed bags and shipped in large plastic pails.
Storing two to four weeks of "commercial" food isn't too difficult. But when you get beyond that, you really need to look at specialized foods prepared specifically for long- term storage. These generally fall into several categories:
● Nitrogen packed grains and legumes
All offer one main advantage: long storage life. Some, such as MRE's and packages sold to backpackers, are complete meals. This is handy and convenient, but they tend to be expensive on a per-meal basis. Others, such as #10 cans (about a gallon) of dried items, are usually ingredients which can be used to prepare a full meal. These ingredients include everything from macaroni elbows or carrot slices to powdered milk or butter flavor. Your best bet is a combination of both full-meal entrees and bulk items.
As the name implies, MRE's are ideal for a quick, nutritious, easy-to-prepare meal. They are convenient to carry in the car, on a trip or on a hike. They have very long shelf lives (which can be extended by placing a case or two in your spare refrigerator). On the downside, they are very expensive on a per-meal basis and they do not provide as much roughage as you need. (This can lead to digestive problems if you plan to live on them for more than a week or two.)
Large canned goods, on the other hand, are difficult to transport. But if you are stocking up your survival get-away or planning to batten down the hatches and stay at home, the large canned goods are easy to store and can keep you well-fed for months. While individual cans can be purchased, most popular are sets of multiple items. These are designed to provide a specific number of calories per day (they'll recommend 1,800 per day, but you'll probably want more) for a set period of time, often three months, six months or a year. Remember, however, if you have four people in your family or survival group, purchasing a one-year supply of food will only equate to three months worth for the family.
The Warrior Class recommends purchasing the largest set of foods your budget can handle. Then supplement the set with items tailored to you and your family or survival group. Also, MREs and MRE entrees (MREs, or Meals Ready to Eat, are the same meals that keep our troops running strong out in the field. Packed full of calories and nutrients, these meals are now available to the public.) are excellent supplements, because prepared sets of #10 cans are primarily vegetables, pasta and grains, while MRE entrees are usually meat-based.
You may also want to add a few special items, such as hard candy or deserts, to reward yourself or for quick energy. That's one area where MREs and MRE deserts can be a great supplemental item. It's pretty tough to store pound cake or brownies for several years, but the MRE makers have managed it. They also offer crackers and peanut butter, bread and some great side dishes.
While we're on the topic of supplements, don't forget to add vitamins and mineral supplements. Fruits, green vegetables and other items rich in vitamin C and other nutrients may be scarce, so a good multi-vitamin is well worth the space it takes up in your stash.
NOTE: Since the guide was written, The Warrior Class has started selling long-term survival foods and other related supplies. If you are interested, please visit our Survival Shop.
Home Made Survival Foods
There's nothing like a cellar full of canned goods you grew and put up. From spaghetti sauce to your own jam, canning goods is a tradition that will come in mighty handy in a survival situation.
But The Warrior Class doesn't pretend to be an expert. Whenever you are dealing with canning fruits, vegetables or meats, its important to follow the latest specifics from the true experts. (OK, so maybe government isn't all bad.) See our list of links for canners and others looking to preserve food.
You can also dry, vacuum-pack and otherwise prepare food for storage. Vacuum pumps are available commercially or can be constructed in your own home. You can use them to seal dried food in mason jars and other containers.
When packing foods for storage, you want to eliminate oxygen (which is why a vacuum is so good). Bugs, such as weevils, and other organisms that can destroy your food need the oxygen to live, just as we do. That's why commercial companies who prepare survival food pack grains, cereals, pasta, beans and other food in nitrogen-filled containers. You can accomplish a similar packaging yourself by using dried ice.
Simply take the 10 pounds of noodles (or 25 pounds of rice or other dried food) you picked up from the warehouse and put them in an appropriately sized plastic bucket with a lid that can create a good seal. The add several chunks of dried ice. As it sublimates, your bucket will fill with carbon dioxide, which will displace all or most of the oxygen (since carbon dioxide is heavier, the oxygen should rise to the top and out of the bucket). Place the lid on the bucket, but don't seal it all the way until you think the dry ice has completely turned to gas. This is a fine line, since you want to seal it before oxygen starts leaking back into the bucket. Remember, as soon as you open the bucket, whoosh! the air will rush back in.
Hunting and Gathering in the Wild
Image this scenario:
A small nuclear conflict erupts in the Middle East destroying several countries and much of the world's oil supply. Airbursts knock out more than half of the world's satellite communications systems. Due to favorable weather conditions and plain dumb luck, fall-out over the United States is not life threatening -- as it is in part of Europe, Japan and the Far East -- and the EMP damage to our electronic systems is minimal. However life as we know it is disrupted as fuel prices reach $10 and then $20 per gallon.
Fruits and vegetables grown in Florida and California can't reach markets in other states. Corn and wheat crops are abundant, but farmers don't have the fuel to run harvesters. And those that do, fill their silos, but the grain can't reach the market. Store shelves are emptied in two days of panicked buying that sees a five-pound bag of flour go from $1.69 to $8.99.
The economy goes into a tailspin, and inflation reaches 300 percent in the first two weeks. You are lucky you still have a job, but you wonder how on earth you'll get there with no the car.
The president tries to regain control of the country, by releasing stocks of food and oil, but it's just a drop in the bucket. In a measure of how bad things have become, he declares marshal law and nationalizes all oil, refineries and oil reserves. Suddenly, Uncle Sam is the only gas station on the block, and they're not pumping for anybody, no matter how much silver you cross their palms with. Riots break out in seventeen major cities and the national guard has to be called out. LA burns (again) as does Philadelphia. There's a national curfew and trouble makers are hauled off to camps. 60 Minutes runs a story on these concentration camps, which nobody ever admitted were in existence, but they experience technical difficulties and the broadcast is cut off in the middle of the story. FEMA becomes a four letter word.
Suddenly, the two weeks of food in your larder looks frighteningly small. You wish you had more room on your credit card, but then, smart merchants are only accepting cash. You can't wait for the few tomato plants and cucumbers you have growing in the back yard to bear. But you know it won't be enough. Winter is coming, and the papers say the utilities can't guarantee there will be enough gas or electric to heat peoples' homes.
Maybe it's time to look to nature to help feed you. That's great if you are a farmer or have five or more acres of tillable land. But if not, or if it's too late to plant crops, that means a return to hunting, trapping and gathering.
If you can identify wild plants that can supplement your existing diet, good for you. If not, better go out and buy a few guide books right away. Get ones with pictures, you'll need them. Just hope everyone else doesn't have the same idea, or berry bushes and apple trees will be stripped clean in seconds.
The Warrior Classmates have eaten all sorts of wild plants, from salad greens he probably would have tromped over on any other day to wild mushrooms to the heads of milkweeds (properly prepared, of course). Its not his first choice, but its better than tightening the belt.
The Warrior Class supports hunting as a great American past time, an important tool in game management and a terrific source to supplement your traditional menu during these good times. But will it be enough to put food on the table during a survival situation? Don't count on it.
If you are a hunter, you know how crowded it usually is on opening day. Could you imagine what the local patch of forest would be like if everyone's dinner depended on hunting?
How quickly would we strip this continent of all edible game? Planning on fishing? So are all your neighbors.
There are some areas of the country where the ratio of people to wildlife will still support sustenance hunting. But for most of us, that's not the case. You may be able to supplement your food supply with some game, but don't count on it.
What do The Warrior Classmates recommend you do if the above scenario comes to play?
● At the first hint of trouble and rising prices, visit the local food warehouse and grocery stores and buy as much as you can afford. Get the 50 pound bags of rice and the 25 pound bags of flour. Use your credit cards and part of your emergency cash stash, if necessary.
● Hunker down at home and protect what is yours.
● Keep a low profile and avoid contact with others, except fellow members of your survival group. Avoid trouble and confrontations.
● Hope that within six months the country will have recovered or at least stabilized. If not, the population will probably be a lot smaller when winter is over.
Food Storage and Preservation Links
This is a complete guide to storing food for survival needs. It is much more in depth than the above information.
Rec.Food.Preserving and Rec.Food.Preserving FAQ
The place to ask questions and learn more about home-preserved foods. According to their charter: Rec.food.preserving is a newsgroup devoted to the discussion of recipes, equipment, and techniques of food preservation. Current food preservation techniques that rightly should be discussed in this forum include canning, freezing, dehydration, pickling, smoking, salting, distilling, and potting. Foodstuffs are defined as produce (both fruits and vegetables), meat, fish, dairy products, culinary and medicinal herbs. Discussions should be limited to home-grown or home-preserved foods.
Here are a few more. The site's name generally says it all:
Water Storage and Purification
As mentioned previously, water is probably the most necessary element for human life, with the exception of oxygen.
When planning your water resources for survival you need to deal with three areas:
● Storing water
● Finding or obtaining water
● Purifying water
For your in-home cache or survival retreat stash, you should count on two gallons of water per-person per-day. While this is more water than necessary to survive (except in hot climates or after strenuous exertion) it ensures water is available for hygiene and cooking as well as drinking.
The Warrior Classmates personal in-home stashes have enough water for several weeks, and many live near a stream in an area where it rains frequently!
Commercial gallon bottles of filtered/purified spring water often carry expiration dates two years after the bottling date. A good rotation program is necessary to ensure your supply of water remains fresh and drinkable (or see the our section on water for an easy alternative).
If you prefer to store your own water, don't use milk cartons.; it's practically impossible to remove the milk residue (ugh!). Bleach bottles are recommended by others, and although The Warrior Classmates have never used this method, and apparently bleach manufacturers don't recommend it.
If you have a spare refrigerator in the basement or the garage, use PET water bottles (the kind soda or liters of water come in) to fill any available freezer space. In addition to providing you with fresh, easily transportable drinking water, the ice can be used to cool food in the refigerator in the event of a power failure. The Warrior Classmates have found that these bottles, which are clear and have screw-on caps like soda bottles, will withstand many freeze-thaw cycles with no bursting or leaking. (The bottom may distort when frozen, but this isn't a big problem.) For self-storage of large amounts of water, you are probably better off with containers of at least 5 gallons. Food-grade plastic storage containers are available commercially in sizes from five gallons to 250 or more. Containers with handles and
spouts are usually five to seven gallons, which will weigh between 40 and 56 pounds. Get too far beyond that and you'll have great difficulty moving a full tank.
15 gallon and 30 gallon containers used for food service -- such as delivery of syrups to soda bottlers and other manufacturers -- are often available on the surplus market. Following proper cleaning, these are ideal for water storage -- as long as a tight seal can be maintained. 55 gallon drums and larger tanks are also useful for long-term storage. But make sure you have a superior pump on hand!
Solutions designed to be added to water to prepare it for long-term storage are commercially obtainable. Bleach can also be used to treat tap water from municipal sources. Added at a rate of about 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons, bleach can ensure the water will remain drinkable. The Warrior Class recommends rotating the water in storage tanks every year.
Once you are in a survival situation where there is a limited amount of water, conservation is an important consideration. While drinking water is critical, water is also necessary for rehydrating and cooking dried foods. Water from boiling pasta, food preparation of vegetables and similar sources can and should be retained and drunk, after it has cooled. Canned vegetables also contain liquid that can be consumed.
To preserve water, save water from washing your hands, clothes and dishes to flush toilets.
Short Term Storage
People who have electric pumps drawing water from their well have learned the lesson of filling up all available pots and pans when a thunderstorm is brewing. What would you do if you knew your water supply would be disrupted in an hour?
Here are a few options in addition to filling the pots and pans:
● The simplest option is to put two or three heavy-duty plastic trash bags (avoid those with post-consumer recycled content) inside each other. Then fill the inner bag with water. You can even use the trash can to give structure to the bag. (A good argument for keeping your trash can fairly clean!)
● Fill your bath tub almost to the top. While you probably won't want to drink this water, it can be used to flush toilets, wash your hands, etc.
If you are at home, a fair amount of water will be stored in your water pipes and related system.
To get access to this water, first close the valve to the outside as soon as possible. This will prevent the water from running out as pressure to the entire system drops and prevent contaminated water from entering your house.
Then open a faucet on the top floor. This will let air into the system so a vacuum doesn't hold the water in. Next, you can open a faucet in the basement. Gravity should allow the water in your pipes to run out the open faucet. You can repeat this procedure for both hot and cold systems.
Your hot water heater will also have plenty of water inside it. You can access this water from the valve on the bottom. Again, you may need to open a faucet somewhere else in the house to ensure a smooth flow of water. Sediment often collects in the bottom of a hot water heater. While a good maintenance program can prevent this, it should not be dangerous. Simply allow any stirred up dirt to again drift to the bottom.
Finding or Obtaining Water
There are certain climates and geographic locations where finding water will either be extremely easy or nearly impossible. You'll have to take your location into account when you read the following. The Warrior Class's best suggestion: Buy a guide book tailored for your location, be it desert, jungle, arctic or temperate.
Wherever you live, your best bet for finding a source of water is to scout out suitable locations and stock up necessary equipment before an emergency befalls you. With proper preparedness, you should know not only the location of the nearest streams, springs or other water source but specific locations where it would be easy to fill a container and the safest way to get it home.
Preparedness also means having at hand an easily installable system for collecting rain water. This can range from large tarps or sheets of plastic to a system for collecting water run off from your roof or gutters.
Once you have identified a source of water, you need to have bottles or other containers ready to transport it or store it.
And while you may think any water will do in a pinch, water that is not purified may make you sick, possibly even killing you. In a survival situation, with little or no medical attention available, you need to remain as healthy as possible. And a bad case of the runs is terribly uncomfortable in the best of times!
Boiling water is the best method for purifying running water you gather from natural sources. It doesn't require any chemicals, or expensive equipment -- all you need is a large pot and a good fire or similar heat source. Plus, a rolling boil for 20 or 30 minutes should kill common bacteria such as guardia and cryptosporidium. One should consider that boiling water will not remove foreign contaminants such as radiation or heavy metals.
Outside of boiling, commercial purification/filter devices made by companies such as PUR or Katadyn are the best choices. They range in size from small pump filters designed for backpackers to large filters designed for entire camps. Probably the best filtering devices for survival retreats are the model where you pour water into the top and allow it to slowly seep through the media into a reservoir on the bottom. No pumping is required.
On the down side, most such filtering devices are expensive and have a limited capacity. Filters are good for anywhere from 200 liters to thousands of gallons, depending on the filter size and mechanism. Some filters used fiberglass and activated charcoal. Others use impregnated resin or even ceramic elements.
Chemical additives are another, often less suitable option. The water purification pills sold to hikers and campers have a limited shelf life, especially once the bottle has been opened. The Warrior Class considers these good for the car's emergency kit, as long as they are frequently replaced.
Pour-though filtering systems can be made in an emergency. Here's one example that will remove many contaminants:
1. Take a five or seven gallon pail (a 55-gallon drum can also be used for a larger scale system) and drill or punch a series of small holes on the bottom.
2. Place several layers of cloth on the bottom of the bucket, this can be anything from denim to an old table cloth.
3. Add a thick layer of sand (preferred) or loose dirt. This will be the main filtering element, so you should add at least half of the pail's depth.
4. Add another few layers of cloth, weighted down with a few larger rocks.
5. Your home-made filter should be several inches below the top of the bucket.
6. Place another bucket or other collection device under the holes you punched on the bottom.
7. Pour collected or gathered water into the top of your new filter system. As gravity works its magic, the water will filter through the media and drip out the bottom, into your collection device. If the water is cloudy or full of sediment, simply let it drop to the bottom and draw the cleaner water off the top of your collection device with a straw or tube.
(If you have a stash of activated charcoal, possibly acquired from an acquarium dealer, you can put a layer inside this filter. Place a layer of cloth above and especially below the charcoal. This will remove other contaminants and reduce any unpleasnt smell or taste.)
While this system may not be the best purification method, it has been successfully used in the past. For rain water or water gathered from what appear to be relatively clean sources of running water, the system should work fine. If you have no water source but a contaminated puddle, oily highway runoff or similar polluted source, the filter may be better than nothing, but it's not a great option.
Once the system has been established and works, you must remember to change the sand or dirt regularly.
Frequently, when we think of shelter, we think of either our home or emergency protection
-- such as a lean-to constructed out of cut branches -- from winter weather.
While that is covered here, there is much more to this critical topic than emergency or cold- weather survival. Most of us are much more likely to be snow-bound on a highway than in the forest -- or left with no a roof over our heads due to a hurricane or earthquake, than abandoned in the wilderness far from civilization. This chapter does not yet include information on how to build permanent or semi-permanent shelters in the wilderness (no teepees or birch-bark houses).
For the purposes of this chapter, The Warrior Class considers "shelter" to be everything from the clothes on your back to the building you live in.
Getting by at Home
In many survival situations, shelter may be as near as our home. If you don't need to evacuate, you may be better off at home, even if the power is off or the storm threatening. Remember, your bug- out bag has the bare essentials, your survival stash at home should have enough food and water for weeks or even months.
If you are at home or in the vicinity during a natural or man-made disaster, your first course of action must be to determine where you will be safest. If you decide not to evacuate, you must then set about making your current residence as safe as possible. In many cases, this will mean moving into the basement or another protected part of the house. In an apartment or condominium, your best bet will probably be an interior room with no windows, or even the basement of the apartment complex. You can get the latest weather reports from CNN or check out their storm center.
Hurricanes are one of the few disasters for which you can anticipate some warning. If your home is near the shore and the rising surf is threatening, or you appear to be in the direct course of the hurricane, you may be better off evacuating to higher ground. Whether or not you choose to evacuate, tremendous structural damage can be caused by objects hurled through windows. Once a window is open, the power of the hurricane can actually blow the roof off the top of the structure!
To protect yourself and your property, windows should be covered with plywood or commercial hurricane shutters. The Warrior Class recommends ClearShield hurricane shutters, which are made from tough clear polycarbonate and allow light to enter the window, unlike their steel and aluminum counterparts. Garage doors should also be reinforced and the door between the garage and the house itself should be locked and secured.
Hurricanes cause damage in multiple ways: high winds, flooding, downed trees and utility poles and storm surges. The farther in-land your location, the less power the hurricane will have by the time it reaches you, so pick your location carefully.
If you decided to stay in your home, you should pick an interior room with no windows. If you plan far enough in advance, you can reinforce the room with 2x6 boards or otherwise construct a cage to protect you from fallen trees, caved-in walls or other storm damage.
Move whatever survival supplies you will need into the room, especially a battery powered light and radio.
While tornadoes cannot be predicted as early as hurricanes, current weather forecasting technology will often tell us when atmospheric conditions are right for their formation. By sticking around the homestead during a tornado watch, you can help protect yourself from the tremendous damage twisters can cause.
A direct hit from a funnel cloud can turn a wooden home into a pile of chopsticks, toss a minivan around like a tumbleweed and knock trees down faster than Paul Bunyon. So if you live in a tornado-prone area, you might be wise to invest in an underground shelter, ala the Wizard of Oz. (You can use it as a root cellar or nuclear survival shelter as well.)
If you live in an area not known for tornadoes, but suddenly one is baring down on you, your next-best bet is the basement, preferably in the corner closest to the direction of the tornado.
If you are driving around and a tornado is looming, park under an underpass and run up as high as you can under it. If caught out in the open, head for the lowest ground possible, even a drainage ditch is better than nothing.
The old advice of standing in a doorway or hiding in the closet or under a table is better than running around panic-stricken, and it may just save your life. If you live in an earth- quake prone area, prepare for it by ensuring your home meets current building standards and you have plenty of food and water stashed away.
If you live through the few minutes of the earthquake, and your house hasn't collapsed, the greater damage may be yet to come. Broken gas lines can cause fires and your house may be condemned, leaving you homeless. Plan for contingencies by having a plastic (non- sparking) wrench available to turn off your gas main. Include a good three-day pack including a tent.
While people do die in their homes due to bitter winter weather, these deaths are often caused by kerosene heaters or other sources of heat. Fire is a danger with any secondary heat source, including wood stoves, fireplaces, kerosene, propane and electric heaters, but they can be managed to reduce fire hazards. Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a concern which must be considered when using untraditional heat sources, such as gathering around the gas oven and opening the door.
One guy used the oven to heat the house, so don't think it can't happen! He also didn't know you had to open the flue before lighting the fire, but that's another story.
Another danger is freezing to death if the power fails. People often think they will be OK because they have a gas or oil furnace. This is a fallacy, because the gas furnace needs an electric fan to move warm air throughout your house while even the oil furnace probably has an electric starter and/or fuel pump.
A secondary source of heat is important, and wood stoves are probably the most efficient. While fire places send much of the heat up the chimney they share with wood stoves the conveniences of being able to find fuel all around you, from books to furniture. (Let's face it, most of have too much junk in our houses anyway.) You can also cook over them in a pinch, and when the blizzard is howling around your house, a cup of hot chocolate tastes twice as good and restores the spirits.
Kerosene and propane heaters can also crank out the BTUs in an emergency but probably require ventilation (check the manufacturer's literature for specifics).
A key to keeping warm with these back-up heat sources is not to try to heat the entire house. Gather everything you think you might need into a single room and close the room off. Use any blankets you can spare over windows and doors, if necessary to reduce drafts. Gather together under your comforters and share your body heat.
The best way to prevent damage from flooding is to move before one occurs. Seriously, don't live on a flood plain unless you have no choice. If you learned anything in the last decade, it should be floods can and do occur in low-lying areas previously thought safe. Rivers and streams rise to record levels, levy's break, and there's just too much concrete for the ground to absorb all that rain.
If you are stuck in a flood, follow your instincts and move to the highest ground possible. Exercise caution when traveling because it doesn't take much water to float a car or pick up truck.
After a disaster, you may have to protect your home and belongings from looters. Sure, they'll probably march out the National Guard, but like the police, they can't be everywhere all the time. Just as you are assuming accountability for your survival by reading this guide, you'll need to assume responsibility for protecting yourself from human predators.
Remember the "looters will be shot" signs after Hurricane Andrew? Makes you want to add spray paint to your survival-stash, doesn't it? How many houses posting signs like that were looted? Sometimes just the threat or presence of a visible weapon will be all you need. At other times, you may have to make the ultimate survival decision and weigh the value of your life, or the life of your loved ones, against that of a criminal. It's your decision, and you have to live with the results, but The Warrior Class believes in judicious use of lethal force to meet an repel a grave threat to yourself.
Tents and Trailers
If your house is uninhabitable or condemned, you can pitch a tent in the back yard. Th