The current survival movement has been with us in earnest since 1978 due to fears that that President Carter would get us nuked. But the movement grew from there as more conspiracy theories, some potentially real and many fanciful threats from, emerged through the years. Taking to the hills may sound neat until you realize that early explorers, scouts, and people who grew up in the wilderness were barely able to survive, especially in the winter. Nowadays, there would be a whole bunch of strangers in the hills; in terrible times even nice people turn nasty, and the nasty ones turn deadly.

You may have heard about bug-out bags (which we will discuss) for use in the event of an emergency. Stop and compare your resources at home to the relatively paltry amount of stuff you can jam into the family vehicle or carry on your back. If you are in cold weather country, everything becomes much more complicated and lethal.

If you live in an area important enough to get “nuked” or with other problems, there will be many thousand of others with the same idea. If you think the Friday 5 o’clock rush hour is fun, wait until you join a boat load of knuckleheads who think their SUV is an Abrams tank. Just a crash or two and that stretch of blacktop is now your new home away from home.

So I suggest you may be best off staying right where you are if possible. You know your neighborhood; you have a residence (fortification of a sort); you have neighbors (mutual protection) whom you know better than the strangers you will meet elsewhere.

Still not convinced? Then always be prepared. Time will be incredibly critical for an early bug out. Always keep your bug-out vehicle in great mechanical shape with the fuel tank at least half full. If possible, safely store extra fuel at your residence in approved gas containers (outdoors, never in the garage or in an enclosed building). Rotate this fuel supply every few months. In a crisis gas stations will be out of service, in gun fights, or offering $50.00 per gallon close out rates to long lines of really unhappy people.

Know several evacuation routes. Have a basic destination and a plan for how to link up with your family members, especially if it had anything to do with electro-magnetic pulse (EMP).

Bug Out Bag
Have a basic bug-out bag fully-prepared for each family member and even pets. Planning for cold-weather survival is much more difficult than other climes. In warm or hot environments you can shelter from the heat and water is the basic need. But you cannot hide from the 24-hour relentless and penetrating cold, snow and ice and, you will need a higher caloric (food) intake.

Actually, bugging out in cold weather will be suicidal in most cases; just check the slick roads.

BASIC Items to consider in a fair weather bug-out bag for one lone stingy adult for 7–14 days. Some of these items need NOT be repeated in other family members’ bug-out bags; other items may be added to meet the particular needs of each family member.

  • Three sets of underwear and socks
  • Warm sweater and warm hat (regardless of where you live)
  • Gloves 
  • Light wind-proof jacket
  • Durable pants
  • 3 durable long sleeve shirts
  • 1 pair robust shoes/boots
  • Poncho/rain gear
  • Basic bathroom kit, roll or two of toilet paper
  • Back-up medications and prescription glasses
  • Large trash bags (many uses)
  • Strike-anywhere matches, fire starter, and those relight joke birthday candles.
  • 8–14 Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) and hard candy
  • Light towel, baby powder (for dry showering)
  • Plenty of feminine hygiene products (if applicable)
  • Sheath or utility pocket knife and multi-tool
  • Wool blanket or sleeping bag
  • Gallon or more of water per person (if possible)
  • Water purification tablets or filter system and a metal cup or pot
  • 100 feet of 550 nylon cord
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cash in $5 and $10 bills (possibly gold coins for barter)
  • Portable hand-crank radio
  • Firearm(s) and ammunition
  • Copies of important papers, such as identification cards, wills, insurance, birth certificates, passports, and so on
  • Note pad, pencils and pens
  • First aid kit

You can add more to your bug-out bag (things like firearms, ammo, and so on), but use good judgment as space may be limited. Then build a specific bug-out bag for each family member’s particular needs (pets too).

Survival Travel Kit
I do like this concept (because it’s mine). This is a minimalist short-duration survival kit that you keep in your vehicle at all times. Due to space limitations, you will generally have only this one bag in your vehicle and it is not as comprehensive as a bug-out bag. The idea is that the contents will assist you in moving toward your home or the nearest civilization should you become immobilized.

Let’s say you are 20 miles across a large city or 100 miles away from any town and an event occurs stranding you and forcing movement by foot. Or that you are on vacation with family members. To prepare, add another bag with supplies specific to them to back up this basic bag. Then you can use luggage items to finish off what you need to get going in your new world.

Suggested basic travel bag items

  • A small back pack of some type may be the best container for ease of carry as you walk out.
  • Small flashlight and batteries
  • 100 feet of military 550 cord
  • Handgun (where legal) and extra ammunition (may become barter). Due to weight and space, the .22 long rifle caliber is best for overall survival versatility.
  • Hunting or good utility knife
  • 3–6 MREs and hard candy
  • Quart or two of water (change it every couple of weeks)
  • Small portable radio and batteries
  • Chemicals to purify water and a metal cup or pot
  • A reliable way to start a fire
  • Toilet paper
  • Some large garbage bags
  • Back-up required medications, stimulants and glasses
  • Some money and a few gold coins (if possible)
  • Warm hat and light jacket, decent shoes

Make this basic travel kit as comprehensive as you wish and size permits, but the idea is to always have it with you in your vehicle to assist in getting back to civilization or your home. The contents could assist you and those with you if you become stranded on a highway during a blizzard or some other event.

Basic Residence Survival
Planning for residence survival is basically unlimited. Look at what you presently have and use on a daily basis, then get more! Once the basics are in place, go about obtaining optional supplies; if things get bad enough, this may be the last time you get to shop/supply for a long time.

Know where all of your gas, electric and water shut-offs are and have the tools to shut them off. Have a couple of new hoses for fire fighting and extinguishers—you may not have police or fire fighters available any more. If you have a pool or hot tub, have a water pump (or buckets) that could supply water in the event of a fire. Consider a back-up generator for your home’s electric power and a method to keep it isolated from the main power line when running; otherwise you could kill a lineman working on getting the power back on line.

Be prepared to quickly establish a (serious) neighborhood watch/protection/guard program. There is safety in numbers to defend your neighborhood in the event of civil unrest. This type of planning may mean strategic blocking of your area’s streets, armed defense, resident medical and fire-fighting plans, and so on.

Have firearms (and ammunition) and know how to use them, but remain law abiding in their use. Avoid the panic buying or looting of food at the store and maintain an absolute minimum 90-day supply of food. The best survival food is the canned food you usually eat. Freeze dried and dehydrated foods are expensive and require clean water (and time) to rehydrate and then cook. I like light weight freeze dried foods for backpacking and my assurance of a water supply. But survival is different, like the potential lack of water. The new MREs are expensive and not as durable as canned food. Most canned foods have a 2–3 year “use by” date, but will keep longer if protected from extreme heat or cold. Recently I ate some five-year old garage-stored canned chili with no problems and it was good tasting.

Canned foods are insect and rodent proof, water proof and can be eaten cold (they are pre-cooked). They are packed in their own juices, which also provide vital liquids, and they come in their own cook pot if necessary; you can heat them over a candle. Last, you may find additional uses for the empty cans. Rotate your stock throughout the year as you regularly eat from your supply. Any unused food that might be getting near your expiration date and you wish to dispose of may be donated to food banks for a tax write off.

The following are basically very affordable and efficient complete meals in a can. In a survival situation, you will not be preparing multi-course meals due to food shortage, fuel shortages, time, mess and cleanup.

Suggested reasonably priced meals in a can include: stews, pork and beans, chili, tuna and sardines, soup, pasta meals, chicken, Spam and other items of substance. Juices and canned fruits have a much shorter shelf life.

Check out those ordinary one gallon jugs of water at your grocery store and you will find they have at least a year’s shelf life and only cost a buck or so. Compared to fancy water in little bottles, the jugs are a great bargain! If you ration carefully from the beginning, you can easily survive on one 303 size can of food per person per day (or less). Don’t forget food for small children and pets.

Augment these canned ready-to-eat foods with rice and or lentils, which make a solid meal when mixed with other foods. Rice and lentils require less water and cooking fuel than dried beans and keep as long.

Maintain a supply of paper plates, bowls, cups, paper towels, plastic utensils, toilet paper and disposable aluminum foil pans, as you may not have the water for washing dishes for sanitation; you can burn your paper dishes. Have some quick lime and tools for digging a backyard outhouse/trash dump. Garbage bags are very handy with many uses. Other supplies might be candles, matches, an extra manual can opener or two, batteries, and so on.

Keep some cash at home in $5 and $10 bills so they are easy to pass. I have no confidence that bulk or junk silver will be of any real use in a survival event. I recommend smaller denominations for survival (not investment), as they are like smaller denomination bills, easier to pass—who will have change? Stick with American gold. Who knows what a gold Ducat, Kroner, or Corona looks like? Gold’s real value is in bribing corrupt cops, military, vigilante groups, or gangs who are controlling areas you need to get through.

A propane barbecue grill is a real survival asset. Have an extra tank or more safely stored outside in garbage bags for weather protection. A propane grill can cook, heat canned food and boil water, making it an excellent backup for lost electrical power or gas. If used wisely, one tank will last for weeks. Always keep it outdoors, never indoors. If you run out of propane, it can become a decent wood stocked cooker.

Know where to locate water. You can live without food for weeks, but you will die in a very few days without water (an advantage of canned foods). To find water, check toilet tanks (not the toilet bowl), water heater, swimming pools, hot tubs, and so on. In an emergency, while water is still available you can fill sinks and bath tubs (drains will leak). Those plastic storage tubs you may have for clothing and crafts make excellent water storage containers. Fresh water goes bad in a week or two, so learn how to maintain and purify water with bleach (a very valuable item to have regardless, as it also works as a powerful sanitizer).

Maintain back up medications, pain killers, stimulants and sleeping aids. Have a first aid kit that can handle larger injuries and train yourself and family members in basic first aid, at the least. Have copies or safely stored originals of valuable papers (wills, insurance, deeds, passports, and so on) located where you can get to them any time.

Have one or more hand crank or battery-operated radio. Keep the batteries out until needed and watch their expiration dates; generally it’s two years. Keep the radios wrapped well in aluminum foil and store them in sealed military surplus ammunition cans that are also wrapped in aluminum foil and then ground them for protection against electronic interference such as the effects of EMP.

As you can see, planning for survival can really be made simple and pretty economical by using your head and a little common sense. You probably already have most of the resources necessary to begin any or all of these three basic types of survival scenarios in your residence.

Due to space limitations we have omitted many things you may think of such as duct tape and plastic sheeting, and so on. Regardless, don’t get crazy, don’t worry, get the basics in place, do a bit of planning and live and enjoy your life.

Article by Robert Sundance

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