The best way to ensure your survival during a disaster is to have a survival plan. This allows you to prepare for any unfortunate circumstance to ensure your survival. An emergency plan must be formulated and introduced to all the members of the family. Everyone should be fully oriented on the plan so that you can carry out the steps quickly and efficiently. Familiarity also instills confidence so that your family will be less likely to panic.
Everyone in the household should know exactly what to do in case of a natural gas leak, an earthquake, or extreme flooding. A speedy response to these emergencies ensures fewer casualties. Your plan should include a clear set of actions, the necessary equipment, and a rendezvous point.
The first step in your survival plan is to make sure that your home is sufficiently reinforced against any disaster. Take your Action Planner. Write out “Home Preparation” as a header and then draw a line to divide the page into two columns. On the left, write “Get.” On the right, write “Do.”
List the things that you need to get and do to sufficiently prepare for disasters. Some of the things that you might want to include in the left column are fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, first aid kit, communications devices, etc.
For the right column, examples include replacing smoke detector batteries, fire extinguisher maintenance, securing cabinets in case of an earthquake, etc.
To Bug Out Or Hunker Down?
In case of a disaster, you’ll be left with two choices: to evacuate or to stay? You’ll need to evacuate if the local government unit advises you to do so. Some disasters will mandate you to stay at home where it’s safer. It’s important to assess the current situation and then make the right call. It also helps to be prepared for both possibilities.
Bugging out means you need to leave your home to travel somewhere safer. You’ll need to go to government shelters or camp out on safer grounds. For this, prepare bug-out bags (BOBs) for every member of the family, including children. These bags must contain provisions to help you survive for three days to a week.
Bugging out means you’ll do a lot of walking, so make sure to keep your bag as light as possible so that you won’t get strained during the transportation. The bags should also be made of water-resistant material to keep the contents secure. It should house survival essentials like important documents, emergency cash, first aid kit, canned food, water, camping gear, etc. To easily remember what your bags must contain, refer to the 5 c’s or 10 c’s of survival; these lists are important for longer-term outdoor survival.
Survival Bags In Your Car
Aside from the standard bug out bag, there should be another emergency bag in your car. A member of the family might be at work or away for the weekend so it helps to have an extra stash in the car. Aside from the basic bug out bag necessities, the car kit should also contain equipment for automobile emergencies like emergency flares, jumper cables, flashers, flat tire repair kits, etc. These items come in handy especially if you need to evacuate using your car.
Bug Out Bag Checklist
- Bottled water
- Tablets for water treatment
- Portable water filter
- Granola bars
- Dehydrated foods
- Hard candy
- Chocolate bars
- Trail mix
- Eating utensils
- Portable knife
- Can opener
- Cooking set
- Moist towelettes
- Spare clothes
- Long underwear
- Thick socks
- Raincoat or poncho
- Sleeping bag
- Duct tape
- Tent spikes
Basic Food Preservation Techniques
Your survival food stash is not just about collecting as much food as you can and then storing them. These food stocks will naturally reach their expiration date. As such, you need to know how to preserve your food at hand so that you can make your resources last as long as possible.
During prolonged emergencies, survival and camping skills, such as hunting for game and taking their meat as food, will come in handy. Small game like rabbits, squirrels, and poultry will be enough to feed your family for one meal so there’s no need to preserve them. However, a larger game like deer or goat will be more than enough for a day. You need to know how to preserve the meat to make them last for days so that you won’t have to hunt again.
Any fresh kill will stay warm long after it’s dead. You can take advantage of their warmth to keep yourself warm during the cold months. However, this warm temperature is also optimal for the growth of microorganisms that cause meat spoilage. These microorganisms are housed in the digestive tract of the freshly killed animal and could quickly spread if you’re not careful.
As such, the first step of field dressing is to remove the guts. This process is essentially the same for different kinds of animals. It involves cutting the underbelly while being careful to not puncture the intestines. Then, the cut can be pulled apart to reveal the organs inside. All of the organs in the thoracic cavity must be carefully removed. Once everything is out, run the carcass under cold water to clean out any remaining organs. For more information, watch this video:
You can cool down the carcass by storing them in the freezer. If the freezer is too small, cut the meat into smaller sections, pack them in clean bags, and label them. During an emergency, there’s a chance that the electricity supply will be interrupted which means that you can’t freeze the meat. In this case, you can just place the meat under some shade or on the cool ground to make its temperature drop. At the instance where you can’t go for freezing, you can smoke the meat and make jerky to preserve it.
Smoking Meat And Making Jerky
Back in the old days when refrigeration was still not yet invented, people preserved their meat by smoking them and making jerky. Food spoilage happens when there is moisture. The moisture provides food and oxygen which causes microorganisms to flourish. If you dehydrate food, as in making jerky, you make spoilage impossible. Just make sure that the dried meat is placed in a clean and airtight container to prevent spoilage.
Smoking meat is also a good food preservation technique because spices help add flavor while combating microbial growth. There are so many food spices with antimicrobial properties. Examples include ginger, black pepper, garlic, thyme, nutmeg, clove, allspice, bay leaves, oregano, chili, black cumin, rosemary, horseradish, mustard, and more. When you mix some of these spices, they exhibit synergistic effects that make their antimicrobial properties stronger and more effective.
Jerky is relatively easy to make and is safe for consumption if prepared correctly. There are numerous cases of food poisoning that arose from bad food smoking habits. To keep your food safe for consumption and to minimize the risk of getting injured while smoking meat, here are a few tips.
- It’s very important to operate in a clean area. A dirty workspace is a home to a myriad of microorganisms that can taint your food and cause spoilage. Keep the meat away from the animal guts as soon as you remove it. Dispose of the animal guts right away to prevent the spread of diseases and viruses. Before you jump into smoking the meat, wash your hands. Use a chlorine and bleach solution to disinfect your workspace and your tools. You should also thoroughly clean the food containers.
- Use a thermometer to regulate the temperature of the smoker. Stick with the recommended temperature so that you will successfully create jerky.
- Make sure that the jerky is completely dry before you store it away. Otherwise, you risk spoilage through bacterial growth in the leftover moisture. You can check if the jerky is already completely dried when you fold it and it cracks in halves. If it’s still rubbery or leathery, then there must be some moisture left. Continue with the smoking until it attains the desired texture.
Drying And Smoking Temperatures
Drying and smoking is a preservation technique that allows you to keep your meat indefinitely. There are a few options on how to achieve this. The USDA recommends the temperature to be 145 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 hours or 155 degrees for four hours. Others recommend a lower temperature of 125 degrees for 10 hours or 135 degrees for 8 hours. It’s important to keep the temperature low to prevent the meat from getting cooked.
To convert Fahrenheit into Celsius, simply subtract by 32, multiply by 5, then divide by nine. You may also refer to this chart:
How To Do It
Smoking and drying meat is an excellent preservation technique because its storage won’t need electricity. It also adds flavor to the meat to make the eating experience more enjoyable. The easiest way to dry meat is to use a food dehydrator. These machines usually have timers and automatic temperature control so that they can strictly follow the recommendations for preparing jerky.
It’s more realistic to use a smoker because, during an emergency, there might be no electricity available to use a food dehydrator. Smoke also contains a natural preservative component. Using a smoker means you need to constantly monitor the temperature and make sure that it’s in the correct setting.
You can make your very own smoker. Take a large wooden box and install some screened shelves that you can slide out. It’s important to avoid using metal screens because these are galvanized with zinc, and zinc shouldn’t make contact with food. Install a vent pipe on top to redirect the exhaust. Once set up, you can start a fire pit at the bottom and then cover it with a metal sheet. This will keep the fire smoldering and not turn into an actual flame that might cook your meat. If you don’t feel like making your smoker, you can use a simple fireplace.
Any firewood will do.
This involves creating an emergency stash that is hidden and only accessible by you and your closest family members. It’s important to keep its location a secret so that you won’t become a target to the other people who are low on resources.
Water is an essential survival item. Much of the human body’s physiological needs rely on the presence of water. There should be clean drinking water as well as water for daily use. Make sure to stock two gallons per day per member of the family.
It’s much more sustainable to have plans to outsource water once your home stash runs out. Prepare a portable filtration system. Scout your area for bodies of water. Reuse gray water for tasks like flushing the toilet. Orient everyone on the importance of rationing and preserving water.
Food is the second most important survival essential. Aside from stockpiling canned goods, it also helps to know food-preservation techniques. This is a sustainable way to have a steady supply of food for everyone. It’s also healthier to prepare your meals every once in a while rather than relying on preservative-ridden foods. Learn how to catch small game, set up traps, field dressing, and foraging.
During an emergency scenario, your access to food might be limited which is why it helps to throw in some multivitamins in the mix. These supplements ensure that your basic nutritional requirements are still being met despite the circumstances.
Clothing helps your body stay warm during cold days. Your emergency stash should contain clothing pieces fit for different weather conditions. Pack in some long underwear, sweaters, thick socks, and many other things to help keep you warm.
You might think that there’s no need to prepare for additional shelter when you are already staying in your home, but you shouldn’t discount the possibility of an emergency evacuation. Pack a tent that’s big enough to fit everyone in the family. Tarpaulin and duct tape are great for building temporary shelter.
Alternative energy sources are important to keep your electrical appliances up and running. A disaster will most likely shut off the power source in your city. It helps to have a generator to power the essentials. Have alternative sources of light to keep your home illuminated at night.
Disasters are said to bring out the best in people, but they also bring out the worst. Don’t forget about the possibility of burglars and assailants. Pack some self-defense items like pepper sprays, Tasers, or a licensed firearm. Install some home security devices like motion-sensor lights to deter burglars. Always be prepared for the possibility that law enforcement might take time to respond to your emergency since they’ll be busy dealing with the disaster.
It’s very important to have the means to communicate with the rest of the world. Mobile phones and telephone lines are unreliable since signals and communication systems may be affected by a disaster or EMP attacks. The absence of electricity also means that you can’t recharge your mobile phones nor use your telephone. Pack a battery-operated radio in your survival kit. Throw in some extra batteries in case you run out of juice. Radios are preferred communication devices because they are more reliable, with low frequencies and greater distance covered. One of the most reliable radio types is HAM radio, though you will need to obtain a radio technician’s license before you can operate one.
A disaster may cause waste collection to be put to a halt. There will be no garbage collection or septic tank cleaning services. It’s very important to know how to properly dispose of your waste because failing to do so may lead to sanitary issues that might cause diseases (or the spread thereof). This is a real threat, especially when human wastes are dumped near wells, water reserves, streams, and other bodies of water. Some of the most common diseases that are water-borne and easily transmitted in this manner include amoebic dysentery and cholera.
The safest way to dispose of human waste is to dump everything in an outhouse or a dug-up hole that’s at least fifty meters away from any water reserve. Once full, the hole must be sealed by pouring back in the soil that was dug out to create the hole. Pat down the hole with a shovel and then make yourself another hole if necessary.
There’s a famous saying that says, “no man is an island.” It’s very difficult to survive on your own during emergencies, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You’ll need the help of your neighbors and friends to survive long enough until the government restabilizes and can actively intervene.
Social interactions are also very important. We’re all more likely to help out a friend than a stranger. It also makes bartering easier. Another benefit is how helpful it is to be part of a group, especially during emergencies when theft and looting cases skyrocket as people scramble to look for survival resources.
It pays off to put in the time to get to know your neighbors and other newcomers in your neighborhood. From there, you can expand to organizing survival seminars to get the community together and to delegate some responsibilities.
Public transportation services may be put to a halt during emergencies. Trains, buses, and other ways to commute will be temporarily put to a stop. As such, it’s crucial to have the means to go around to buy groceries, run errands, or simply be able to relocate yourself in case of an evacuation.
If you have a car, make sure to keep a stock of fuel because gasoline filling stations may be out of service. Place an emergency bag inside the car so that you’d be ready to go when necessary.
Money is very important during emergencies. It’s better to have cash on hand because disasters usually mean that ATMs might be down and cashless interactions might be impossible due to the absence of electricity. Even banks might be useless. Stash some cash in your major emergency kits and first aid kits. Familiarize yourself with the bodegas and stores in your neighborhood that accept cash so that you can buy your resources from them.
During prolonged emergencies, the money will reduce in value. Barter becomes the primary means of goods procurement. As such, you should also stock up on valuable resources like oil and food that you may use for bartering later on. Keep valuable items that you can use to trade for things that you need. Survivalists even recommend keeping twenty percent of your assets in the form of precious metals like gold and silver. There’s plenty of historical evidence that indicates that these precious metals can retain their value through economic turmoil, and are therefore useful for trade.
Noetic And Spiritual Needs
Some individuals have noetic or spiritual needs that can help them face the crisis better. This surely extends beyond the physiological needs of man for survival, but it’s still a very important factor to consider. Prolonged emergencies bring with it boredom, anger, depression, despair, and frustration. Some individuals turn to their spirituality to help calm themselves down and to feel some hope despite the circumstances.
If you’re one of those people, make sure to pack your religious essentials in your bug-out bag. This may include the Holy Bible, a rosary, a religious figurine, or any other item that may represent your religion. Many individuals find comfort in the idea of a divine and supreme being that watches over all of us.
When you have children with you, find ways to provide them with comfort, entertainment, and inspiration. You can do this through games or storytelling. Allocate chores to everyone to help them become occupied with something productive rather than wallowing in despair. Make sure that everyone is getting sufficient social interaction and are contributing to the pack. Not everyone is an active believer in a supreme being, but it’s pretty evident that the people with strong and grounded spiritual beliefs are the ones who fare better during times of difficulty and chaos. There’s a value in knowing that there’s a divine being who’s looking out for you.