These tips will help you focus on the most important steps you can take to prepare for extended power outages and natural disasters. They vary in importance depending on your circumstances. Urban, suburban, rural, and wilderness living all require different priorities in survival planning. Besides location, other factors include whether you are alone or not, physical condition, financial condition, and your current level of survival skills. Feel free to change the order of these survival tips to suit your needs.
1. Stock water and nonperishable food
You need an emergency water supply, but you also need the means to get more water if your municipal supply dries up, or the electric pump in your well fails. Locate nearby water sources, preferably running water such as springs and creeks, and get a good filter. The Big Berkey system is the one I use. You can literally put pesticide-contaminated pond water into the system and drink the output. It will filter up to 3.5 gallons per hour, plenty for a large family, and it’s available from the SNO Store through Amazon — it’s one of the first things I bought when I began my survival planning. That was ten years ago, and we’re still using ours.
Food supplies should be canned and dry goods. Variety is not important if you’re concerned strictly with surviving, but it’s critical for morale. I think of it as the difference between thriving and merely surviving. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a cave with a bunch of people eating nothing but beans and rice for several weeks.
We have a good stock of beans and rice stored in sealed buckets, but we also have pasta, canned tomatoes, canned salmon, tuna, and mackerel, and pickled vegetables — beets, turnips, and cucumbers.
Keep canning supplies on hand. If the power goes off for an extended period, you’ll need to cook and can the contents of your freezer. Properly canned meat will keep for years.
2. Have an alternate source of heat
By this I mean some way to heat the house without relying on public utilities — for most people that means firewood. A fireplace will do, but a wood stove is far more efficient and effective. I can keep the main part of my house, 2200 sq. ft (approx. 220 sq meters) at a comfortable 75 degrees even on single-digit nights. I use a Fireview from Woodstock Soapstone Company. It’s massive, efficient, and beautiful.
Go ahead and cut your firewood now. It needs to dry for several months before you burn it for heat, otherwise you’ll waste much of the heat boiling off the water in the wood, and your fire will never get really hot. Besides, you should stock up while you can still get gasoline for a chainsaw. Sure beats using a saw and an axe. I highly recommend the Husqvarna 350 or any of the models in the 400s. I use a 455, but it’s really built for someone who cuts firewood for a living.
All that said, do get a hand saw, and keep your axe sharp.
3. Stock flashlights, batteries, and candles
Long-term, candles are your best bet, especially if you keep bees. If you have a steady supply of vegetable oils, you can also keep an oil lamp. “Lamp oil,” or kerosene, may be hard to come by after a natural disaster or economic meltdown, so I don’t count on that, although I do have a couple of kerosene lanterns.
If you’re like me, you don’t have tons of oil or beeswax. For home lighting, I’ll count on candles. A single candle will light up a whole room enough to keep you from tripping, and if you’re close enough it’s enough light to read without eye strain. Making candles is easy and fun, and you can find candle making supplies pretty cheap online. Check the SNO store.
For outings in the dark or for tactical situations, I’ll count on a flashlight. For an emergency situation you want one that is waterproof and shock-resistant. LEDs cost slightly more, but they use less battery power and never burn out. A cost-effective and good quality choice is the MAGLITE 2-D Cell LED available at Amazon. I’ve had a non-LED model for years and never had a glitch.
A good flashlight for everyday carry is the SureFire LX2 LumaMax. It runs on size 123A lithium batteries, which are readily available. This flashlight puts out a blinding 200 lumens, but it also has a lower-output setting, and will run for a mind-popping 47 hours on one set of batteries while putting out 15 lumens. That’s bright enough to change a tire or find something in your closet. I know because I have one.
In Part 2:
4. Keep and bear arms.
5. Stock rugged, all-weather clothing.
6. Keep an emergency medical kit.
7. Learn how to get food from the land.
8. Stay out of debt.
9. Keep a good general tool kit.
10. Stock money and money substitutes.