How to Heat Your Home in an Emergency Situation

The weather may be warming up, but that doesn’t mean you can stop thinking about preparing for next winter. Whether you’re dealing with a blizzard, floor or the zombie apocalypse, you’ll need to be able to heat your home during an emergency. Here are some ways to heat your home if the world ends or the power goes out next winter.

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1. Controlling Heat Loss

Before you choose a way to heat your home, you need to make sure the building isn’t bleeding hot air. A lack of insulation, degraded weatherstripping around your doors and windows, and the windows themselves can all allow heat to radiate out of your home, making it harder to keep things warm.

Start by checking your attic for insulation. If you don’t have any insulation or it has been years since its installation, consider upgrading or replacing it. This won’t just help you keep the home warm in the winter time — it can also help you reduce cooling costs in the summer by maintaining the interior temperature.

Weatherstripping around your doors and windows also work to keep out cold air and prevent your heated air from escaping. If yours has deteriorated, it can’t do its job. You can line the edges of your windows and doors with draft stoppers, but this is only a stop-gap measure. The best thing you can do is to replace the weatherstripping entirely. This is easy, even for DIYers who aren’t terribly handy, and you can do it in an afternoon.

Ideally, you’ll want to replace your windows with double-paned options, but if that isn’t in the budget, you won’t be left out in the cold. You can insulate your windows with things you have around the house, like blankets, pillows and tinfoil. Instead of using your thin summer curtains that let in natural light, swap them out with heavy insulated ones. You’ll want to be able to let sunlight in during the day — if there is any — but you don’t want to let all your hard-earned heat escape at night when the temperature drops again.

2. Propane or Kerosene Heaters

Your first thought might be to pick up a couple of space heaters you can plug into the wall, but those won’t do you a lot of good if the power is out or the infrastructure has collapsed. You’re going to need something capable of generating heat that has its own refillable or replaceable fuel source. That’s where kerosene and propane heaters come in.

These free-standing heaters generate hundreds of thousands of BTUs of energy per gallon of fuel. Kerosene costs a little more and may be harder to find — you can find propane anywhere because so many people like to use it for their barbeque grills — but you get more bang for your buck.

Whichever fuel source you choose, you’re going to want to buy it in bulk. Sure you can buy propane cans and kerosene cans in the camping section of your local hardware or department store, but if the power is going to be out for a while, this isn’t a cost-effective way to heat your home. Instead, consider having a propane or kerosene tank installed and buying fuel by the gallon.

3. Candle Heaters

If you don’t have the means or the space to install a fuel tank in your home, you’re not without options. If you’re trying to heat a small space, all you need is a couple of bricks, a couple of terra cotta pots, a long steel bolt and some candles or Sterno cans.

Now, candles and fuel cans don’t generate a lot of heat on their own unless it’s concentrated, such as under a food dish at a buffet, but they do generate heat. The problem is that with any sort of flame or small heat source, it’s not going to radiate heat you can feel unless you’re standing directly over it. Hot air is less dense than cold air, so it will rise to the ceiling where it isn’t doing you any good.

By using a nested pair of terra cotta pots, as well as a steel bolt, you can create a sort of heat battery. The heat from the candles or fuel cans accumulates inside the pot, raising the temperature of both the steel and the terra cotta. Over time, this build up reaches critical mass and starts to radiate heat out into the surrounding area. By keeping the candles lit, you can heat a whole room with one of these simple contraptions. You probably already have most of the pieces scattered around your house.

4. Wood Stoves

You don’t have to remodel your house to use a wood stove to heat the interior. Small portable wood stoves are available. You’ll just need to place them near a window and use a pipe chimney to vent the smoke and ash outside so it doesn’t cause issues indoors.

If you’re planning on using a wood stove to heat your home, you will need to have a generous supply of wood either ready to split or already cut to use as fuel. Spend the cool fall months restocking your fuel supply so that you will have everything you need in case the power goes out. Of course, if you run out of wood, you can always pick up an ax and head out into the forest to find more fuel, so this becomes an incredibly viable option as long as you live near some trees.

5. Fuel Oil Heaters

You don’t have to rely on electricity to heat your home. In fact, more than six million homeowners use fuel oil to power their furnaces. Fuel oil furnaces have a reputation for being dirty or bad for the environment, but while that was true in the past, it isn’t anymore. Fuel oil today contains 93% less sulfur than it did in the 1980s and is between 90 and 95% cleaner than it was in the 1970s.

If you’re considering switching to heating oil as your primary home heating source, make sure you complete the conversion early and refill your tank before the temperature starts to drop. Getting someone to come out for a refill in the middle of a blizzard will be nearly impossible — and if they are willing to make the drive, it will cost you a lot more than it would have in off-peak season.

6. Fireplaces

If you have a gas or wood fireplace in your home, you’re already one step closer to heating your home in the event of a power outage or another emergency. There are a few things you should do before you light that first blaze, though, including:

  • Have the Chimney Cleaned — For a wood fireplace, a clogged chimney isn’t just a fire hazard. It could also leave you choking on smoke and carbon monoxide because these byproducts have no other way to get out of your home. Before you light a fire for the first time, call a chimney sweep and have the whole system cleaned.
  • Clean out the Firebox — If you haven’t cleaned out your fireplace since last winter, now the is perfect time to get rid of all those old ashes and get it ready for the new cold season. Make sure you keep the damper closed while you’re cleaning, though, or an errant gust of wind could send ash all over your living room.
  • Stock up on Fuel — Being ready for anything means you need to have enough fuel to see you through the entire winter if need be. If you have a wood fireplace, start chopping wood before the weather gets cold. If you have a gas fireplace, top off your tank before a blizzard comes through. Unfortunately, if you opted for an electric fireplace, you’re going to be out of luck if the power goes out.

We’ve been using fireplaces to heat our homes for as long as we’ve had homes. It can be a great tool if the power goes out, so make sure they’re ready for the cold winter months.

7. Purchase or Maintain a Generator

Losing power doesn’t just mean you won’t be able to heat your home. It also means you can’t charge your phone, turn on the lights or cook on an electric range. Having a backup generator can help you do all of these things and more.

Make sure your generator is outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Generators run on gasoline or diesel, which means they produce carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, both of which can kill you in high concentrations. Don’t run a generator in the house, no matter how much you don’t want to go out in the cold to plug stuff in and refuel it.

[Editor’s note: Even in a partially-ventilated garage, such as with the garage door half open, toxic CO can build up which can be deadly! ONLY ever use a generator and similar outdoor gear OUTSIDE to stay safe.]

Pay close attention to the power rating of your generator as well. If you overload it, it will shut down or even fail, and you’ll be out of luck for electric heat, charging your phone or keeping your refrigerator running.

8. Choose One Room to Heat

In an emergency, you aren’t going to want to try to heat every room in your house. In the long run, it ends up being a waste of fuel. Instead of trying to heat all 2,000+ square feet, choose one room that is big enough to hold everyone in your house, and designate that as the “warm room.” Close the doors, insulate the windows, cover the vents and plan on spending most of your time in there. Keep the doors and windows closed as much as possible to keep in the warm air and conserve your fuel.

If you keep those doors closed, you can theoretically heat an entire room just with your body heat, too — but it will take a while, and you’ll be cold while you do it.

9. Layers, Layers and More Layers

The last thing you should stock up on is warm winter clothing. Even if the heater is working, keeping your thermostat set lower and layering up can help reduce your winter utility costs. If the power goes out, layering up — including hats, scarves and gloves — can keep you warm and prevent frostbite while you get your heaters set up.

Also, move your winter clothing stash to your designated warm room, so you don’t have to worry about pulling on cold pants, shirts and other items while it’s below freezing outside. After all, pretty much the only thing worse than cold underwear is a cold shower.

Don’t start by putting on your heaviest coat, though. Add multiple thin layers you can easily remove if you warm up or move into a warm area. Heavy coats aren’t always necessary as long as you have enough layers. If you get too warm or start sweating, change your bottom layers. Wet clothing draws heat away from your body and makes it harder for you to stay warm.

Stay inside as much as possible, and layer up.

Stay Warm

If the power goes out during a floor or the world ends and the entire infrastructure collapses, you’ll need to figure out how to heat your home. These ideas are all things you can prepare and have ready before the temperature starts to drop. This is one case where it’s better to have all of these things and not need them, rather than to not have them and potentially freeze to death or burn your house down trying to stay warm.

It is important to remember that many of these solutions can present or create a fire hazard if they are misused. Take the time to maintain your equipment, so you’ll always be ready once Old Man Winter shows his face. No one wants to spend all their time in one room playing board games while the power is out, but if it takes the utility companies a while to restore the system, this could keep you warm throughout even the coldest winter.

No matter what you choose to do, be ready for falling temperatures, and stay warm this winter!

Note: This was a guest post.

How To Utilize Trees For Survival: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Off Of Trees

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Earth Day always gives us a little time to think about the trees. Planting a tree on Earth Day is a tradition in many places, namely because these life-giving plants help provide clean air and natural resources like wood, as well as habitat for other living creatures.

But trees aren’t just worthy of our appreciation on Earth Day. In fact, you can make use of them so many ways that you’ll be a generally better survivalist just by understanding their many applications. With the right knowledge, trees can provide food and water, shelter and even basic construction materials.

A Long History of Utility

Today, the construction industry is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we consider how important trees are. Lumber from all types of trees is harvested every day around the world to be used as building material, fuel for fires and pulp for paper products. But even before we were building things from trees, hunter/gatherer tribes were collecting nutritious tree nuts as a source of food. They later discovered the value of trees as one component of a farming system.

Prominent historical figures like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington revered these important crops and understood well the value they lent to the North American continent. Before the founding of the United States, indigenous peoples made use of tree-based products like nuts and sap for use in daily life. Nearly every part of a tree can be put to good use, and no one knew it better.

Knowledge of how to get the most from American icons like oak, maple and pine has been handed down for generations. You might be surprised how much there is to know!

Tree-Based Foods

You’ve probably consumed a great many tree-based foods in your life without ever even thinking about it. Tree nuts are the most obvious, with popular and time-honored examples including acorns, walnuts and pine nuts. Almonds, popular edible tree nuts revered for their health benefits, are actually not safe to eat raw in the wild because they contain natural toxins. Stick to the first three if you’re looking for a tree-based snack in the American wild.

In addition to tree nuts, many fruit-bearing trees form the backbone of the exceptional variety of fruits we enjoy nearly year-round in the United States. Apples, peaches and citrus fruit like oranges and tangerines all come from trees, although some are more common in the wilderness than others.

Mulberry trees, while lesser-known to those seeking fruit in the market, can offer a snack while you’re exploring open spaces. Cherry trees are both farmed and naturally occurring. The bright yellow honey locust tree and rare hackberry are native varieties that produce edible fruits and seeds and are less commonly farmed.

Not surprisingly, many types of food-producing trees have been put into large-scale farming operations in places like California, Florida and New York. If you’re a fan of fresh orange juice, you might know how sensitive these farming operations can be. To enjoy the great selection of exotic fruits available to us — a luxury almost no other country enjoys as well as the USA — we have to take care to keep our tree farms healthy and adapt to shifting weather patterns.

Some tree farming operations have even created new forms of hybrid fruit. Examples like the grapple and tangelo take characteristics of naturally occurring fruit and leverage genomics technology to offer an entirely new experience. This genetic experimentation has recently given us the SnapDragon and RubyFrost apples, products of work done at Cornell University. Trees are continuing to provide new sources of food today!

Water, Sap and Resin

In addition to delicious fruits and nuts, trees can provide life-sustaining water and other liquid products, including the popular sap, used for making syrup. In addition to sap, the thick, amber liquid you might think of as sap is in fact a different substance altogether called resin. Pine, fir and ceder trees, along with their relatives in the Pinaceae family, produce resin, which is typically thick and tar-like and makes a much better adhesive than thinner, watery sap.

To collect sap, whether it be for use in making syrup or just to have a drink of the high water-content liquid, bore a hole in the side of a tree and insert a tube for the sap to flow through. You can drink raw sap right from the tree as a source of water. To make the maple syrup or other sweet products requires processing. Called “sugaring,” the process of making syrup involves first setting a tap in place and then allowing enough liquid to pool in your bucket or other collection device so that you can boil off the extra water.

Sugaring rigs vary in their size and design, but a “stereotypical” rig consists of a wood-fired stove with a broad pot or pan at the top. Sap is poured into the pan and kept at a low boil for hours on end. Removing the right amount of water to make syrup and not hard candy takes a little finesse and a lot of practice. However, once it’s ready, maple syrup can be kept for many months as a stable food. It’s a great way to have a treat around and prepare some sugar for a survival situation. Not a bad gift come holiday time either!

Unlike maple syrup, pine tree resin won’t help your breakfast taste better. However, it does have some good-to-know survival uses. It can be collected around a damaged area of the tree, and it will harden when it’s exposed to sunlight. Native Americans have been known to use pine tree resin to close wounds — it’s a natural antiseptic because it keeps moisture from entering the wound, and it can be peeled from the skin once healing is far enough along. It’s also helpful treating rashes and can be made into a tea to treat a sore throat.

Aside from its medicinal uses, resin can be used to help with starting fires, as a sealant to waterproof clothes and shoes and even as glue when it’s combined with crumbled charcoal. To make your glue, heat resin until it’s thin and mix it with the charcoal powder in a ratio that’s two parts resin to one part ash. Use a stick to collect the dark-colored mixture as it cools. The cool glue won’t be good for bonding things, but you can reheat it to apply to a surface when needed.

Additional Medicinal Uses

Many survivalists find tree-based products to be useful for curing ailments along with their nutritional value. Similar to the pine resin tea we mentioned earlier, nature provides us with a slew of natural medicine available just by processing basic tree-derived items. Pine nettle tea, for example, is a famous cure for vitamin C deficiency that early frontiersmen relied on because of the prevalence of scurvy.

Many outdoorsmen still enjoy making pine nettle tea for its woody flavor, and while boiling for too long can remove some of the vitamin C from the brew, you can decide how strong to make it if you’re not in need of saving from scurvy.

Willow tree bark contains salicin, a naturally occurring compound that’s similar in makeup to aspirin. If you’re far from home and in need of pain relief, peel a hunk of bark from a nearby willow and chew it to unlock the tree’s natural anti-inflammatory properties. We’ve listed some additional herbal remedies derived from trees below:

  • The sap of the alder tree can be used to calm itching and wash wounds. Alder leaves and bark can be boiled to make a tea that will reduce a fever.
  • Apple trees provide a number of digestive remedies. Peeled apple tree root can be consumed to cure diarrhea, while stewed unpeeled apples can be used as a laxative. Apple cider with garlic and horseradish can be used to treat skin conditions.
  • Ash tree leaves can be made into a tea to reduce gout, jaundice and rheumatism, and the tea is also a laxative.
  • Tea made from the flowers and berries of the Hawthorne tree can have positive affects for cardiac health and lower blood pressure.
  • Linden and closely related basswood products can calm nerves and are effective remedies for headaches, spasms and pain.
  • Green walnut husks can be slit to produce a sap that’s effective for treating ringworm.
  • Witch hazel is a famous remedy for many conditions. It is anti-inflammatory, hemostatic and antiseptic.

Using Trees for Shelter

Up until now, we’ve been mainly focused on the ways you can use tree-based products by ingesting them. However, trees make an effective survival tool as a form of shelter too. Perhaps you’ve noticed the way a healthy redwood offers shade on a hot day. Maybe you’ve enjoyed climbing the trees in a nearby orchard as a child. Being large and stationary, trees can provide these basic benefits of coverage and a high vantage point, but they can also do a lot more in a survival situation.

If you’re in need of a calm place to set up camp while in the wilderness, a thicket of trees might be just the thing to provide shade and knock down wind that could otherwise interfere with your tent or other camp shelter. Don’t have a tent? Why not just use the trees themselves? Assuming the trees in your area provide suitably hard wood, you can collect large, fallen branches and arrange them in a lean-to to shield yourself and your belongings from animals and elements.

If you can find a large enough dead tree, you can even hunker down inside the hollowed-out trunk itself. Doing so sounds rather idyllic because it is. Finding just such a tree is rare, and if you do plan to use one as shelter, be sure to check its structural integrity. A dead tree with a hollow trunk may not endure a bout of strong wind, and you won’t want to be in it when the upper regions come crashing down. Maybe take a picture and move on.

Of course, wood is an excellent building material, and if time is on your side, you can use tree products to construct your own shelter. You can do so by planting and growing a protective shelter belt to keep wind and elements off your encampment or crops or by harvesting existing wood and constructing a small structure. Using basic tongue-in-groove construction, it’s possible to stand up a simple log building using a good set of trees, a sharp ax and perhaps a few other basic tools. Keep in mind that this undertaking is not a beginner-level project.

An Alaskan mill, a lumber-processing tool that can be built using a fallen log and metal brackets, is a handy way to produce real, right-sized cuts of lumber in the backcountry, but it takes a skilled saw-man to run. Still, in a situation that requires you to fabricate a sturdy wooden structure without help from the kinds of tools you’d find in a larger-scale construction setting, the Alaskan mill is the perennial go-to. If you’re going to look into using one of these, find someone who’s done it, and practice safely getting to know the ins and outs of this tool, as it can be very dangerous.

Man’s Other “Best Friend”

Your dog is probably a lot more fun than a tree, that’s not asking much. But when you consider all the wonderful things trees do for us — providing fresh air, healthy snacks and sustenance for wilderness adventures, handy sap and resin products, medicines and lodging and more — trees are absolutely amazing.

This guide gives you a good overview of the many ways you can benefit from trees in wilderness settings. Hopefully, what you’ve read here will prove useful. There’s so much you can do with the numerous tree-based products covered here and elsewhere. What plans do you have to make use of this new knowledge — are you going to begin brewing pine-nettle tea or harvesting maple sap for use in syrup? Let us know in the comments below!

Note: This was a guest post.

How to Prep for a Flood in 7 Easy Steps

Flooding is a natural part of our planet’s ecosystem, but for inhabitants of flood-risk areas, high water is the harbinger of destruction and even death. In America’s most flood-prone states, like California, Florida and Arizona, up to 25 percent of housing units sit within a 100- or 500-year floodplain. Flooding can occur nearly anywhere rainfall touches, and as climate change shifts toward more dramatic weather, the damage caused during the wet season is becoming exponentially worse for residents of these areas.

Water damage from flooding can destroy your home and vehicle. Six inches of moving water is enough to sweep you off your feet, and two feet of moving water can make a full-sized car float. In places like New Orleans, Puerto Rico and New York City, the harsh realities of flood damage have seen people lose everything after getting overrun by high water from hurricanes and tropical storms.

In addition to the risk of long-term damage to your possessions, the short-term realities of surviving a flood can be daunting. Navigating flooded streets can be extremely dangerous and is not always a viable solution. Staying put has a different set of risks, and might require you to get by without power for several days.

1. Understand Your Flood Risk

If you live in a floodplain, you probably know it. Maps like those available through FEMA and the NYU Furman Center can provide information about the risk of flooding in different regions of the country. However, for many people, flooding is just a fact of life. It’s a risk that comes with living in the area they can afford or that they wish to call home. With all indicators pointing to our weather only becoming more extreme, you should have a plan to prepare for the next flood.

Floodplains fall into 100- and 500-year categories based on how frequently you can expect severe flooding in the defined area. The first step in actively preparing to face a flood is understanding how at-risk you are. We recommend visiting resources like the Furman Center Flood Zone Hazard Map, which can give you an accurate depiction of your risk of flooding at a high level, with the ability to zoom in on detailed areas down to the street level.

2. Know How to Stay Informed

If you pay attention to weather forecasts like most adults, you probably have some idea of when to expect wet weather. While it can be easy to rely on television and the internet, simpler forms of communication specifically, radio tend to be favorable in a flood scenario. Your county or city weather service will issue a flood watch when weather conditions show signs of potential flooding. If the flood watch changes to a flood warning, you should be prepared to move quickly or get your home ready to withstand flooding.

Make sure your entire family is familiar with emergency phone numbers to call for your area to check for evacuations and flooding updates. If internet access is available throughout the flood, you will be able to receive updates via social media and using online resources from NOAA, FEMA and others. These agencies offer phone services you can sign up for beforehand as a redundancy. You should also have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio on hand to receive updates if you lose power and internet connectivity dies.

3. Be Prepared to Evacuate

Severe flooding is challenging for most people to ride out comfortably. Know the quickest path to high ground from your home, and have a vehicle fueled up and ready in an area where it won’t be off-limits if you need to get out quickly. Know where to find all medication your family needs, as well as all essential documents. Store these items ahead of time in waterproof containers so they won’t get damaged if things get wet before you leave home.

Consider keeping a bug-out kit stashed in your evacuation vehicle to make your exit more efficient, as well as a survival kit in place in your home if you can’t evacuate. Talk to your family ahead of time, so everyone knows where to gather and what route to use in the event of an evacuation. During an evacuation, keep your radio on and listen for updates. If you get separated from loved ones, consider having them coordinate with friends or relatives to ensure everyone leaves in time.

4. Make Your Home Flood-Ready

Consider you may need to stay with your house through the flood, but that even if you don’t, you’ll want to have a safe, dry place to come back to after it subsides. That means you need to plan to protect the home itself, as well as provision it for the people who will stay there. Making your home flood-ready can be a long process, so you might want to get a head start on some of these things before the wet part of the year. For example, homes elevated on stilts are naturally safer than those closer to the ground. Move appliances like your water heater, furnace and electrical breaker to the house’s upper floors to limit the chance of their exposure to floodwaters.

If possible, do not install electrical outlets lower than 12 inches off the ground. You should know where your home’s breaker box is and how to disable all power if needed. A gasoline generator can be an invaluable resource during a flood, and is something homeowners who live in flood-prone areas should think of as a must. Make sure to keep a supply of usable fuel on hand if you do have one. It is possible to rig your car up to function as a generator in a desperate scenario. However, not everyone will have the equipment or know-how to do this, so if you don’t have a permanent one installed, consider a visit to your local hardware store ahead of time to purchase a stand-alone unit and some gas cans.

In your home’s plumbing, install pressure-sensitive check valves that will stop floodwaters from entering all drains, showers, faucets and toilets. You can use plugs as a last resort however, thinking ahead and using valves is much safer. Use sealing compound to seal any cracks in the basement or first-level concrete walls.

5. Protect Your House From Rising Waters

Next, move to preparing the house to be safe from floodwaters approaching outside. You can construct a levee or berm using packed earth with enough lead time. More high-tech solutions include inflatable barriers like the AquaDam perimeter flood barrier, which provided a temporary water-filled floor barrier. Seal off all windows and any vents into the house that are close to ground level.

You should augment your barricade with sandbags, which can be an arduous task, so plan your time accordingly. A good rule to keep in mind is that it takes about an hour for a team of two to build a 20-foot wall of 100 sandbags. Use this basic math to work out the time it will take to complete a barrier for your entire home when making the difficult decision to stay or evacuate. If you keep animals or livestock, consider moving any fencing or enclosures so they have access to high ground to get away from floodwaters if needed.

Since finding burlap bags, shovels and sand can be a challenge in a flood, it’s a best practice to have these items ready to go ahead of time and stored in an easy-to-access place. Sandbags not only help hold back water, but can absorb some of what hits the ground, making them invaluable in a home-protection situation. In some communities, their local government makes sandbags available to residents, so check online to see if there’s a way to have some delivered for you before things get bad.

If you have extra time, consider moving furniture in the home to a higher floor to make your stay more comfortable and reduce the chance of water damage. Remove any floor coverings like rugs and welcome mats from the ground floor of your home and move them to higher ground. Leaving them will almost certainly result in their destruction.

Flood insurance, while it can be expensive, can make the difference between losing everything and a swift recovery for those who live in problem areas. If you know your home is at risk of severe flood damage, consider speaking to your insurance company about coverage. Ultimately, not even the best-prepared house will be 100 percent safe from a serious flood. Insurance can help you and your family rebuild or relocate and avoid a painful reality if things get severely damaged.

6. Stock Food and Water

Clean water and food are essential if you’re going to remain in your home, and you should have plenty of both. Fill bottles with fresh water and store them somewhere that is not at risk of flooding, so you won’t need to risk getting wet to retrieve your supplies. Make a stockpile of canned and nonperishable food items you can prepare without power. As a backup plan, have at least one method of purifying water that doesn’t rely on electricity, such as a gravity filter or iodine tablets, so you and your family won’t have to go without drinking water. Floodwater is never safe to drink.

Don’t integrate the food you’ll rely on during a flood with your regular pantry. Instead, store it separately, so you don’t use it all, and set a reminder to check the dates on items, so you don’t find they’ve expired right when you need them. You can consider storing your emergency rations in a watertight container such as a large cooler or chest, which might make it easier to transport if you need to relocate the food to a higher area in preparation for a coming flood.

As you’ve probably already concluded, pre-packaged sealed items that don’t go bad quickly such as soups, canned meats and vegetables are the safest items to eat during a flood. You can use military rations such as MREs if you have them, as well as meal-ration bars packaged in a way that seals them from contact with floodwater. Avoid items with snap closures or twist-off caps, which can become contaminated more easily. If at all possible, do not consume any food that touches floodwater, as there can be waterborne bacteria and other contaminants such as gasoline and industrial chemicals and human waste swept up in the debris.

If you have power and want to attempt to cook during a flood, make sure to clean and disinfect all kitchen equipment. This tip is crucial if you need to boil water to purify it. If your home draws water from a well, it is not safe to use following a flood. Continue to drink and cook with your emergency water supply until you can verify the well water is safe to drink. Disinfect and test any well water before using it.

7. Know How to Ride out the Flood

All the preparatory work in the world can’t stop those floodwaters from coming, so being safe in a flood also means understanding how to safely endure the hours or days when you have to remain in your home. If you are in a secure location to stay indoors, turn off the power and make sure you have your emergency rations near you. Have your radio, phone and any other communications devices ready, and pay attention for updates from authorities. If you need to venture out, wear waterproof clothes and use a car with ground clearance unless it’s not an option. If you get caught on a flooded road, leave the car and move to high ground.

Avoid beaches and riverbanks, as well as any low spots where floodwater may pool. Notify your friends and relatives of your location as soon as possible, and if you did evacuate, only return to your home after authorities declare the area safe. The aftermath of flooding can be disastrous. However, if you take these precautions, you stand the best chance of getting through it safely and preserving your home in the best condition possible.

Note: This was a guest post.

Worm Bins 5 Years Later

It’s gardening season and I figured it would be fun to start with a video on worms. 🙂 This particular video is sort of an update on a previous video he did on how to set up a cheap worm bin, if interested.

You can skip to about the 5:45 mark to get to where he shows you the worm bins and then listen to his advice and tips on how to get the most out of your worms and to keep them healthy and well fed…

Family Survival Training: A Step by Step Guide

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For many people, family is their number one priority. As parents, we go to work in order to provide food and shelter for our children, we try and provide the best education, and give them what we lacked during our own childhood.

However, many people forget to teach their children how to respond to an emergency. Even as parents we may need to reevaluate which areas in our home are the safest and which are the most dangerous during a crisis.

While government agencies have an emergency plan for a whole assortment of situations, it’s prudent that your family has one as well.

Follow this family survival training guide and keep everyone safe during an emergency.

1.   Family Emergency Plan

Step number one is to hold a family meeting to create an emergency plan. This needs to be created as a whole family in case an emergency happens while you guys are separated.

Identify Areas of the House

The plan needs to cover the various areas in the home and what is potentially dangerous.

Go over safe spots that will protect you from falling objects or debris (heavy tables and desks), as well as potentially dangerous areas in objects, such as:

  • Windows
  • Hanging light fixtures
  • Heavy objects on shelves
  • Tall furniture that hasn’t been secured to the wall
  • Major appliances
  • Hanging plants/pictures
  • Chimneys

Create a Home Evacuation Plan

Next, you’ll want to cover the fastest evacuation route and potential contingency routes. Teach your kids how to escape a home during a fire. Practice a home evacuation plan with multiple ways out of every room in the event of a fire. You can even make a game out of it by timing your family to see how fast they can get out.

Go over the basics of how to react to the sound of a smoke alarm. Instruct them that if the alarm does sound, to get low and crawl out, which will greatly enhance their chance of exiting safely.

Never forget to include the tried-and-true, stop, drop, and roll if someone has actually caught on fire.

During a crisis where evacuation isn’t the top priority, everyone in the house should know where and be able to shut off the:

  • Water
  • Gas
  • Electricity

Show everyone when, why, and how to turn them off.

Tailor the Plan to Accommodate for Particular Needs

Just as every disaster comes in different shapes and sizes, so does every family. A plan for one family may not be adequate for another.

Make special preparations for family members who are:

  • Elderly
  • Disabled
  • Required to take specific medication
  • Unable to communicate with emergency workers
  • Children

During this phase of family emergency plan, make sure that when helping family members who need special assistance in order to evacuate, to get:

  • Medications
  • Medical equipment
  • Mobility devices (wheelchairs, canes, walkers)

After Disaster Meeting Plan

Sometimes a disaster can strike while everyone is separate, or the disaster can actually separate you from your family. If this is the case, then it’s vital that family members know where and how to get back together, or at least get in touch.

The family emergency plan should include:

  • A meeting place
  • Trusted neighbors
  • Local emergency shelters
  • The number of out-of-state relatives

If possible, organize a plan with a neighbor or nearby friends to pick up each other’s children in the event of an emergency, and possible house them until the crisis has passed.

    2. Stock Up on Supplies

Now that everyone has been instructed on what to do if there is an emergency, it’s now time to prepare for a potential disaster. When there is a hurricane warning, it’s not fun to wade through the sea of people trying to get their hands on that last can of tuna, it’s better to already have it at your house.

Take stock of your emergency supplies and organize them. You’ll want to have multiple of some items to store in different parts of your house. The majority of people have heard, “Two is one and one is none.” Sometimes things go awry and your flashlight breaks or gets lost, it’s better to have another one handy, just in case. However, try not to keep them together, because if you can’t get to the room that they’re in, then you might as well have none.

After finishing the family emergency plan, you should have an idea of where your family spends the most time, and consider keeping an emergency stash in these locations. Most people spend the majority of their time in either the kitchen or the living room, so it’s best to have a backpack or a plastic container in these locations with your survival equipment.

You may also want to keep an additional kit in your bedroom, in case something happens while you’re sleeping.

Your basic emergency kit should include:

  • Water – one gallon/person for 3 days
  • Food – 3 days’ worth supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Radio
  • Dust mask
  • Duct tape
  • Sanitation (garbage bags, wet naps)
  • Tool kit
  • Manual can opener
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Special medication
  • Infant supplies (if applicable)

Maintain your emergency kit at least once a month to see if they are stored properly

Having items that have multiple uses and can act as a backup for another major item should also be kept handy.

When storing your food supply, keeping mind to:

  • Place dried food, sugar, and flour into air-tight sealed jars to prevent rodents and pest from getting to them
  • Store you supply out of direct light and heat in order to extend its usability
  • Store them off the ground to prevent and potential contamination

    3. First Aid Supplies and Training

Disaster usually come with injuries, and for many people, they may be stranded for up to 3 days by themselves. If the disaster is severe enough, emergency services could be down, and treating injuries will fall on to you.

It’s time to put together a first aid kit, and if you don’t know how or it’s been a long time since you’ve administered first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), it’s time to take a course.

Courses can be found for both adults and children, and can be found at various locations such as Red Cross, hospitals, and community centers.

There they can teach you how to treat common disaster injuries, such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Lacerations
  • Shock
  • Respiratory arrest

When building your first aid kit, keep in mind that you won’t know what you’ll end up needing to treat, so make sure your kit includes:


  • Bandages (variety of types; butterfly, triangular, rolls, etc)
  • Adhesive tape
  • 4×4 individually sealed sterile gauze dressings
  • Scissors


  • Aspirin or acetaminophen
  • Cold compress
  • Saline for eye irrigation


  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic salve
  • Latex gloves
  • Liquid soap
  • Wound disinfectant


  • A first aid manual
  • Safety pins
  • Eye cup or small plastic cup to wash out eyes
  • Emergency (foil) blanket
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • High-absorbency pads
  • Tissues
  • Smelling salts
  • Dust masks

Keep this kit with your other emergency supplies.

    4. Earthquake Preparedness

Every city within the United States is at risk of an earthquake. It doesn’t matter the magnitude of the quake, any size ranging from 5 all the way up to the terrifying 8.0, can cause immense damages and injuries.

Given that there are hundreds of earthquakes over 3.0 in the United States every year, it stands to reason that everyone should understand what to do in the event one strikes.

However, if you take the correct course of action then you can save lives and reduce your risk of death and injury.

If you find yourself inside when the plates begin rattling, then you should follow three simple steps in order to reduce your chances at being hurt.

Step 1. Get Down

When you feel a quake coming on, drop to the floor and keep low. You want to avoid windows in case they shatter as well as any tall unsecured furniture which may topple. They make specific earthquake resistant versions of many items now, such as windows, that you should take advantage of if your area is prone to quakes.

Step 2. Take Cover

As soon as you’re able to find cover, get underneath of it. This can be anything from a table, desk, or any other strong furniture which can help protect you from falling debris. If you are in an area without adequate coverage, find the corner of an interior wall and curl up while protecting your head and neck with your arms. Once again, avoid any windows that can break or any heavy objects that can fall.

Step 3. Hold On

If you’ve managed to get cover under a piece of furniture, then hold onto it. You may have to move from your location, and you want to bring it with you like a protective shell. Once you’ve found a safer area, maintain that position until the earthquake has ceased and you are out of immediate danger.

    5. Practice

The more you plan and drill with your family, the easier it will be for them to react correctly to any emergency. If they know they right steps, then the fear will become more manageable for them because they won’t need to make snap decisions. Plus, going through family survival training is an excellent way to teach children to begin trusting in their own skills to get out safe.

Author Biography:

Ben Brown is the owner of The Prepping Guide. Involved in Military for many years and write about Personal Security, Preparedness, Prepping, Survival, Self-Sufficiency and Readiness for Safety, both Physically and Digitally.

Survival Water From Your Hot Water Heater

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In the video I posted the other day about 7 steps for emergency water preparation, I don’t recall it saying anything about how to get water out of the water heater. The following post covers that crucial knowledge in detail…

Probably the first thing any of us will notice in a post-disaster scenario is the lack of electrical power. The second thing we will most likely notice is that there isn’t any water. We’ll go to the sink, expecting the water to come out of the faucet, like it always does, and nothing will happen. For many, that will be the moment they wake up and realize that the brown stuff really has hit the rotary air movement device.

Water is one of our top survival priorities, beaten out only by the ability to maintain our core body temperature. Yet it is often overlooked in our day-to-day lives. We are so accustomed to having water at our fingertips, that most people don’t have any idea where to get water, other than bottled water, in the case of an emergency which shuts down the city water.

Yet most of us have a number of water supplies readily available, within walking distance of our homes. We also have clean water in our homes, ready for our use. All we have to do is find a way to access it…

Read the full article here

How to Build an Underground Bunker

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An underground bunker could be your best asset in many different survival scenarios. It gives you a place to wait out whatever chaos might be going on above-ground and helps ensure you and your family stay safe — even comfortable — no matter what’s happening in the world. Many survivalists dream of having an underground bunker. While it’s not cheap or easy to build one, it is doable. If you’re ever in a situation in which you need a bunker, you’ll be glad you invested the time and money. Here’s our guide for building your underground bunker.

Get a Permit

Before you start building your bunker, you need to get a permit to ensure you stay on the right side of the law. Consulting local authorities will also give you crucial information about utilities, such as gas or water pipes, that might be on your property — one of the main reasons you need a permit. Before you do anything else, research the laws in your area and take the steps required to make sure your project is legal. You don’t want to spend a bunch of time planning a bunker, only to find out you can’t legally do so.

Start Planning

Before you start building your bunker, you’ll need to have as many details planned out as you possibly can. However, planning is second nature to a survivalist, who is always thinking about the future.

Choose a Location

One of the first things you need to plan is the location of your bunker. You probably need at least half an acre to build a decent bunker. Some important considerations when deciding on a bunker location are:

You’ll also need to decide where you want to locate your bunker in relation to your house. Some people build their bunkers directly underneath their home, which allows for easy access, but can make it more likely you’ll run into obstacles like plumbing pipes and electrical equipment. You can also put your bunker elsewhere on your property and build a tunnel to your home, or erect a small shed to conceal the entrance.


If you’re building a decently sized bunker, you’ll likely want to use some heavy excavation equipment. You can rent this equipment or hire someone to do your digging for you. If you’re using heavy machinery, plan for excavation to make up a significant portion of your budget. Technically, using a shovel is an option, but that will take much longer unless you’re just building a small shelter.

Build Your Structure

You’ve got several options when it comes to the structure of your bunker. If you want to go the quicker and easier route, you can use a premade structure such as a shipping container. While this is an efficient way to get shelter finished, it will give you a lot less flexibility in your design. If you do use a shipping container, make sure you reinforce it, as the design of these containers doesn’t allow them to take a heavy load on the top and sides. You’ll again need some heavy machinery to lower the container into the hole.

You can also build your structure yourself. While it will take more work and time to do so, you can customize your shelter to your precise specifications.

One significant consideration when planning your structure is what material to use for your floor, walls and ceiling. Wood is not the best choice for a bunker. While it’s cheap, sturdy and easy to work with, it won’t last as long as many other materials. Untreated wood is susceptible to weathering and rotting. Even treated wood will eventually break down and may suffer from insect infestation.

A better option is metal. Welding thick metal sheets together and supporting them with tube steel makes for a sturdy, moisture-resistance structure. The downside to using metal is that it’s more expensive than some other options.

If you want a more affordable but still sturdy option, consider using bricks or cinderblocks. They last a long time and are relatively easy to install. Bricks will also provide excellent insulation.

Another excellent option is concrete. It’s long-lasting, sturdy, affordable and relatively easy to work with.

Be careful when choosing the materials you’ll work with. Even small items like the fasteners you select have an impact on your structure’s durability and safety. Bolts, for example, can typically withstand more pressure than screws or nails.

Build Entrances and Exits

How you get into and out of your bunker is another vital consideration. Many survivalists opt to create a passage from their house to their shelter so they can get underground without going outside. You can also create an outdoor entrance and conceal it by building a small shed over top of it. You should always have at least two ways in and out in case one of your passages gets blocked off.

Ensuring you have correctly supported the passages into your bunker is essential. Use pillars made from concrete or bricks to keep your passages sturdy and safe.

Waterproof Your Bunker

When building your bunker, do everything you can to ensure moisture doesn’t seep into it. Using a sturdy metal, concrete or brick structure is vital to keeping water out, but you may also want to place a waterproof sheet over the top of your shelter to provide some extra protection from moisture.

Plan for Air Filtration

You’ll also need to make sure you have access to fresh air in your bunker, which will be crucial if you end up needing to shelter there for an extended period. Have at least two air vents. They’ll keep fresh air flowing in your bunker and help cool it down during the summer. Also, invest in an air filtration system and stock up on air filters. You may also want to purchase a gas mask in case you have to leave your bunker before the outside air is safe to breathe.

Plan for Clean Water

Of course, you will also need access to water while you’re in the bunker. While you can store containers of water in your shelter, you’ll run out quickly if you’re stuck underground for longer than you anticipated.

One option is to install a large water tank next to your bunker. Doing so means you’ll have to do more excavation, but a water tank will provide you with a significant quantity of water.

Even a large water tank will eventually run out, though, if you’re in your shelter for a long time. For this reason, it’s ideal to have a water delivery system that can replenish itself, in addition to a water tank. You may be able to tap into the water table from within the shelter. You might need additional permits if you plan on digging a well in addition to your bunker. If you have running water nearby, you may be able to install piping to channel it into your bunker. You could also create a rainwater harvest system that collects water above the ground and pipes it to you underground. Just make sure you invest in equipment for filtering the water so you can ensure it’s safe to drink.

Conceal Your Underground Survival Bunker

You also need to determine how you’re going to conceal your bunker once you’re finished building it. Your hideout is going to be a lot less useful if everyone can see where it is. So, how do you hide your bunker?

Of course, you’ll cover your bunker back up with dirt once you finish building it. Use the dirt you dug out of the ground, so it blends in with the surrounding earth. Also, plant fauna that matches the surrounding area. You want to do everything you can to prevent the space above your bunker from standing out.

As mentioned earlier, you can build a small shed to hide an outside entrance to your shelter. If you have an entry in your house, cover it up with a piece of furniture or carpet. You can conceal your air vents by planting bushes over them and hiding them behind rocks.

Get creative with this step and use what you have to your advantage. The better disguised your bunker is, the more secure it will be.

You’ll also want to make sure your bunker is relatively soundproof. Consider installing soundproofing materials, such as acoustic foam, to keep any noise from escaping into the outside world.

Add Access to Electricity

Having electricity in your bunker is optional, but it can make survival more manageable and allow you to be as comfortable as possible while spending time in your hideout.

Keep in mind fuels like propane and kerosene are off-limits. Even if you have a good ventilation system, it’s dangerous to use these kinds of fuels in an underground bunker due to the fumes they create.

You can connect your bunker to the power grid, but in a real doomsday scenario, you likely won’t have reliable access to it. You can consider connecting to the grid as a backup, though, if you like.

Your best bet for getting power in your bunker is an off-grid renewable energy system such as solar panels or a small wind turbine. If you have running water nearby, you may also be able to build a small water turbine generator. Having a power source can make it a bit more difficult to hide your bunker, but you could make it look like the system is powering your home, but also run wiring to your shelter. It would be useful to have a battery system alongside your renewable generation so you can have a more continuous flow of energy.

Even if you do include electricity in your bunker plans, make sure you can also survive down there without it, as your aboveground generation equipment could get damaged.

Stock Your Bunker With Supplies

Once your bunker is ready to go, what should you store in it? Everyone’s list will likely look a bit different, but here are some supplies to consider.

  • Food: Obviously, you’ll need a supply of nonperishable food items such as canned goods and dehydrated meals. One positive of keeping your emergency food cache underground is that it will naturally stay a bit cool. You might also want to dig an extra room for food storage. Just make sure it stays dry.
  • Medical supplies: You’ll also need a first-aid kit that includes essential over-the-counter medications and emergency medical supplies such as alcohol wipes and bandages. If you need certain medicines that are specific to you, you might want to keep a supply in your bunker as well.
  • Weapons and ammunition: You might also want some method of self-defense. If you store a gun, make sure you have an adequate supply of ammunition. Just make sure you don’t sacrifice too much space you could use for food or medical supplies to make room for more weapons.
  • Entertainment: Just because you’re in an emergency, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun while in your bunker. Keeping a positive mindset will be crucial to your safety and survival, and having some way to entertain yourself can help you stay upbeat. Store some board games, a deck of cards, books, art supplies, a musical instrument, video games or whatever else you like to use for entertainment.

Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe in Any Situation

Building an underground bunker isn’t easy. With adequate planning and the right attitude, it is doable and well worth it. It can even be fun. It’s not cheap, either, but you can do it affordably if you plan and get a bit creative. Just make sure you never sacrifice safety to cut costs.

Having an underground shelter could be useful to anyone. Doomsday preppers have lots of reasons for wanting one, but they’re also helpful during natural disasters such as tornadoes. Plus, they’re excellent for storing emergency supplies. If you go all-out with your bunker, you might even find yourself wanting to hang out in it.

Note: This was a guest post.

5 Items You Might Not Have Thought Of For SHTF

Like he said from the start, you may well have some of the following items in some form or another, but maybe not precisely what he discusses in the video. In any case, I would suggest you ensure you have the following handful of items, including the cast iron cookware and quality blankets, for sure. I can’t say, however, that the last item is particularly useful, though there isn’t any harm in having something similar for last-ditch self defense purposes…

8 Best Portable Stoves for Bug Out

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I always enjoy reading about what other people think are the “best” of anything because you never know what you might find and maybe, just maybe, you’ll come across something new.

In any case, the following article discusses eight useful bug out stove options, including rocket stoves (a personal favorite), hobo stoves, traditional butane or propane stoves, alcohol stoves, and more.

When you’re done reading I’m sure you’ll find a stove that’s right for you and your situation…

During a SHTF situation you must have a heat source that functions on readily available fuel to boil water for purification, cook, stay warm, and perhaps even to cauterize a wound. Quality survival stoves must be three things: lightweight, portable, and quick lighting. You might think that all lightweight emergency stoves are also portable, but that isn’t necessarily so.

What’s A Survival Stove?
Before browsing for the perfect emergency stove to suit your needs, it is essential to define what a survival stove is and what it is not. A survival stove can be a camping stove – but not every camping stove is best suited for use during a SHTF bugout situation.

While many camping stoves are lightweight and portable, some are better suited for “glamping” and/or making a fuel traditional meal and to be set up for a weekend outing – no be toted along in a bugout bag. Larger camping stoves do have value as long as you are traveling in a vehicle and have stockpiled plenty of small propane tanks to power it.

Rocket stoves are another top quality off the grid heating and cooking option – but again, not necessarily designed with portability in mind. Because rocket stove comes in a variety of sizes, it is possible to make great use of a rocket stove’s rapid heating capabilities, only on a slightly smaller scale…

Read the full article here