HomePosts Tagged "prepping supplies"

Prepping in its most basic form to me is about proactively taking steps to ensure you and those around you are ready with skills, supplies and a plan to react to emergencies or disasters in a way that promotes your survival. The core of short-term survival I would argue is something that many of us take for granted and that is water.

Why do you need to store water for emergencies?

The simple answer to that question is one that you probably already know. We all need water to survive and if you go without it for a while your health deteriorates. You can get headaches, become lethargic and weak. Go with water for more than a couple of days and you die. Water or lack of sufficient, clean drinking water, more than almost anything else (I will go into the other things later) will kill you.

That much is pretty simple. Usually everyone can accept that premise without even blinking an eye. What they frequently have problems with is this idea that you could ever find yourself without clean drinking water. We in virtually all of the developed world have water treatment facilities, plumbing and systems that bring clean water inside the house or our offices and you would be hard pressed to walk anywhere in even the smallest cities without quickly finding nice clear, plastic bottles of water for sale. But what if the water in the tap was tainted? What if the tap no longer put forth clean, shiny water? What if the stores with all of those bags and bags of bottled water were empty? This is where prepping begins.

To prepare, you have to do something proactively.

It isn’t wise to sit back and say things like “that would never happen” or my own personal favorite, “the government will take care of us if that happened”. In any large emergency, you will be reliant upon yourself as evidenced in almost every case in recent history. Yes, disaster relief organizations and government assistance will usually mobilize, but do you want to wait for that to happen? Even the government tells you to prepare on its website, ready.gov. If they are saying not to wait for them, what does that tell you?


I don’t know why anyone would count on the government. Maybe they will do something right, but I wouldn’t bet my life on them saving me.

How much water do you need to survive?

So we agree that everyone needs to stockpile water, but the next obvious question is how much? The amount of water you need vary greatly depending on a few different factors. A general rule of thumb is that you need one gallon of water per person per day. This assumes hydration needs and hygiene. You won’t necessarily drink a gallon of water, but you might need it for reconstituting freeze-dried food, cleaning cooking implements or washing your body. On some days you might not even need a gallon of water. Other days you could end up needing much more than one gallon if you are exerting yourself physically or the temperatures are elevated and you are losing fluids to perspiration.

In my opinion, water is one of the easiest preps to cross off your list and since it is so vital, it made the cut as the first in this series. To calculate how much water you need, just multiply the number of people you are prepping for by the number of days you want to be stocked up for. In my family, I have those who live with me (4) as well as extended family who I plan will come to our location (another 4 potentially) as well as some friends (add 4 to that) so I am looking at potentially needing to supply water for 12 people. 12 people for one month is 12 X 30 = 360 gallons of water.

Where is the best place to store water?

That is only for one month. What if the emergency lasts longer than one month? What if the town’s water supply is still not safe for drinking at that point? 360 gallons takes up a lot of room no matter how you look at it. If you have 55 gallon barrels in your basement that is still 6 barrels and again that assumes everyone is staying at or under their one gallon a day limit.

I have a few different ways to store water. The first is stored in heavy-duty plastic containers that hold 7 gallons each. These are great because they are more portable, they stack and I can get some storage in smaller spaces, like the shelves of a pantry. I can also easily transport a few of these to my Bug Out Vehicle if necessary. This storage only lasts a week.

If you have the space, larger water storage containers work best.

After that I have rain barrels that hold 50 gallons a piece. The great thing about rain barrels is that they can be refilled by Mother Nature without you having to do anything except make sure the water is disinfected. But, this requires an outside location and not everyone has a home on land where they can back up a barrel under the gutter. People who live in apartments have different space limitations.

For apartment dwellers, I would recommend using the stack-able storage, but diversify that around your apartment so you don’t have weight all in one space. Usually any apartments are built on concrete substrates so even several hundred pounds of water in a closet wouldn’t risk compromising the floor. You can also try storage facilities if necessary.

What do you do when the water runs out?

But no matter how much water you have stored up, it could still run out in the worse emergencies so it is important to have an alternate plan to acquire good water afterward. Actually, I think it is more important to plan to procure water than it is to stockpile it in the long run.

Platypus GravityWorks Filter System, 4-Liters of water in minutes.

Water borne bacteria and viruses are not something you want to encounter in a disaster situation. Stomach bugs, even minor can put you down and give you diarrhea. Who wants to worry about getting sick when the world ends much less crapping yourself all the time when the toilet paper is in short supply anyway? A simple and reliable method of making your water safe to drink is also very important.

Boiling water is a sure-fire way to kill all bacteria and viruses. The drawback to this approach for me is that you have to start a fire and use a container. The fire could alert people to your location and that might not be what you want. Also, you have to wait for the water to cool before you can drink it and boiling isn’t going to get out any sediment, it will just make your water safer to drink.

I prefer gravity filters for their ease of use, compactness and filtration ability. With a filter like the Platypus Gravityworks, you can quickly filter 4 liters of water just by filling up a bag and it’s ready to drink in minutes. Literally, I filtered 2 liters in less than 2 minutes.

There is also using bleach to disinfect ,water purification tablets and even iodine, but these aren’t without their drawbacks too and do require you to wait for the chemicals to work. Your choice, but there are options.

Make sure you have plans to supply the water needs of your own survival group at the initial point of any emergencies and long after by crafting your water preparedness plan now.

Prepping in its most basic form to me is about proactively taking steps to ensure you and those around you are ready with skills, supplies and a plan to react

When I say “hands-free light” I mean a miner/caver style headlamp or a clip-on cap light. I don’t mean a lantern or any equivalent. Lamps and lanterns have their place, just like the good ol’ portable spotlights and flashlights that also live in my house. However, when it comes to a portable light, it’s hard to beat something that leaves your hands free and moves around with your eyes. Their cost, usefulness, and weight make them an absolute must-have for preppers.

Different Types of Headlamps

There are two general types of headlamps. There’s the “miner” or “caving” style with a strap or two like this one:


LITOM Headlamp Flashlight with White/Red LED, IPX6 Waterproof Helmet Light

Then there are the clip-on “cap light” types that rides on a hat brim like this one …


ThorFire Cap Hat Light 5-LED Headlamp Rotatable Ball Cap Visor light Clip-on Hat Light

Both have some pro’s and con’s. Then there’s this guy, too, nearly a hybrid of the two:


ThorFire Cree LED Cap Light Headlamp 3 Modes Ball Hat Lamp Flashlight Adjustable Zoomable Headlamp 155 lumen

With any headlamp, quality matters. That is sometimes to regularly reflected in price. Cheap stuff is … well, routinely cheap.

I can find good Rayovac and Browning models at HAM fests and flea markets for $5-10. Not only is the price spot-on or lower than online, there are regularly examples out, so you can get a feel for how sturdy clips are, how scratchy/smooth the band is, how heavy they are to wear, and how easy the controls are to handle before you buy.

Headlamp Shopping Consideration: Battery Type

Different models run off different types of batteries. Most take standard AA or AAA batteries or specialty coin/button cell batteries of various diameters and power, with some caving/miner’s style running off of a 9 volt.

There are a few that run off of A23’s and periodically a “matchstick” 4A/AAAA pops in one of our pockets. Those and the button cells are not exactly sitting on every shelf.

Even if they’re not going to be the victims of any crazy pre-disaster or mid-disaster runs, I’m not going to be able to grab any if I don’t already have them should a natural or manmade disaster bears down on us. They’re also not particularly inexpensive, although some of them have pretty incredible lifespans, especially in an LED light that gets used for a few hours during dark seasons, and I haven’t found chargers for them sitting on many shelves in my neck of the woods (or at all, ever).

The more powerful the headlamp – miner/caver headlamp or clip-on cap light – the faster it will burn up those batteries. In some cases, that’s mitigated by a light running off of 3-4 batteries instead of two, and that starts getting pretty heavy on heads that aren’t used to hardhats or helmets.


Headlamps that run off common batteries are easier to keep powered. Headlamps with battery packs opposite the light source distribute the weight and are a little more balanced, but aren’t particularly great if you have long hair.

For a lot of my everyday purposes, I really like the slim, curving clip-on cap lights that use a button cell battery, even though it does use uncommon batteries. They’re lighter to wear and slimmer to stick in a pocket when I’m not wearing a hat.

However, for preparedness purposes and away-from-home headlamps, I stock up on the ones that run off one or two AAA batteries.

They’re still relatively lightweight, and AAA is a common size for us. I have plenty of chargers, and rechargeable and disposable batteries for them, to include some that stay in my truck with a mini solar window charger. That means I can afford more batteries and I have more options for battery sources, so I can keep them fed longer than if I relied on a less-common or specialty battery.

There’s also less aggravation involved when a battery gets replaced, and then a light immediately dies a hero’s death (or an inglorious one; we’re a family of klutzes).

For people who prepare for the worst, how much money and what percentage of a supply is invested in any given risk is something to consider. After all, our plans should always include a visit by Uncle Murphy.

Shopping Consideration: Light & Switch Array

I prefer the kind where the light options are one-click selectable instead of progressive click types, but I’m learning to look down and shade them with a palm before I touch them.


Some clip-on cap lights have progressive-click single-button controls that require running through various light intensities, colors and-or flashing sequences to turn them off. Some are available with one-click select-able settings.

Why is this a factor?

Because it’s rude to blind people, horses, and dogs whose vision has adjusted, especially if you love them. Sometimes it’s only as annoying as living with somebody who doesn’t close cabinets or drawers, but sometimes it’s really a bad time to have your rods and cones flip-flop and your pupils tighten to a pinpoint.

Being able to just automatically go from a low light to “off” also has advantages at bedtime.

Some of us are sensitive to sudden light increases, even when we’re aware it’s coming. Closed eyes are not always barrier enough. When we’re done reading and ready for bed, but have to progress through three colors or 3-5 intensities of light to turn a lamp off, we have a real potential to wake ourselves back up or disturb loved ones or partners. That’s bad enough on a camping trip or for a short-term outage. It’s the kind of thing that can become a constant bur under the saddle and lead to tempers and serious discontent in high-stress situations.

Hands-free flashlights are supposed to be making our lives easier, not harder. It’s not an insurmountable problem (hence, learning to hold a hand over the LEDs); it’s just something to be aware of when we buy. If we’re forgetful or only have one good paw, maybe we make sure to buy the selective-setting versions with a separate on-off switch, or that we buy ours with just one light setting. Lots of options.

Headlamp Pro-Cons by Style

As I said, I really like the flatter clip-on styles over the caving/miner style of headlamp.

They fit in back pockets of jeans and coat pockets very easily and without snagging everything else in there in winter. They’re light enough to clip to my stove hood and to lampshades during outages, to a branch or fence wire while grilling, or to a pack strap sitting at a campsite, and to clip to my shirt or coat collar if I’m wearing a ski cap or bandana instead of a hat.


There are clip-on cap lights with single optics and that prop up or rotate for convenience. They lose some of the drawbacks of a miner style headlamp, but they can weigh just as much and drag a hat down – which is a real pain if you wear glasses.

I’m also a chick, and the miner’s strap types snag my hair. That then gets in my way until I stop and re-band it. This is annoying when my hands are wrist-deep in raw meat, starchy potatoes, or garden soil.

When I’m wearing them without a hat, they rub my forehead uncomfortably. They’re a little bit heavier and a little bit bulkier, and you have to adjust multiple straps. They also give me one more length of strap to be snagging on things. Those annoyances add up when you’re already uncomfortable.

However, they, too, have their advantages.


There are some powerful cap lights available, but for the same price, there is usually a caver/miner style headlamp that penetrates further or illuminates a wider area.

I can find more powerful lights that penetrate deeper into space without extreme costs in the miner’s/caving style of headlamp. It’s kind of their wheelhouse, after all. I can think of a lot of situations where that added distance has a real advantage.

As with the clip-ons, I can find versions with variable light distance and area coverage, and with the miner’s style, I can sometimes find them Maglite style, where twisting a ring lets me condense to a narrow point or open up to a wider area. That’s pretty convenient sometimes, and the rings tend to hold up well to years of use.

I tend to find the caver’s and miner’s style sturdier and more resistant to boots and bouncing down stairs than the clip on’s, even when they’re a lower-grade camping model.

We call them “nighttime collars” for the pups because we sling them on before we turn the pack loose in low-light situations.

With a handy clothespin or a wire clothes hanger, they can be used in just as many places around the house as the cap lights. The strap has periodically gotten looped around my neck or arm, I can hook them around pack straps to keep track of those while setting up camp (and of the nephews and BSA kiddos in front of me when we’re running late into a site), and I can hang them on my rear-view mirror easily instead of clipping a light to the sun visor.

Which is better? It’s really just a matter of preference, and sometimes preference changes just by use. I have both, just like I own both firearms and airguns.


Image/Images: There are a lot of times when it’s not just nice to have a light follow our eyes without holding it in our hands – it greatly effects our efficiency and speed.

Hands-Free Lights – A Must-Have? Really?

Yeah. Because it’s dark out there. Most of us never truly know how dark it can be, even when we’re rural dwellers and backpackers, because there’s so much ambient light in most of North America. One of the big adjustments for non-camping suburban and city folks is just how dark a rural area can be – even with its household lights from electronics and appliances.

Long-term outages and a grid-down situation will change that, and potentially remove most or all of those constant glows from our lives. So light sources belong on any must-have list.

Especially in the dark, it’s really nice to have a light while working with my hands. Yes, there are all kinds of lanterns. I have quite the variety. Lamps and lanterns have to be carried around. That takes a hand, or requires fetching them. Other light sources are fixed and I have to move to them with tasks. That’s limiting my efficiency one way or another.


Cooking is one of those times when a lamp doesn’t always cut it and it’s nice to have the light turn with our heads.

When I’m sitting somewhere reading, playing cards, or cleaning a tool, a lantern works great.

When I’m moving around cleaning, cooking, filing animal nails and feet, going from the back to the front of my truck and somebody else’s vehicle miracling one of them to life, or doing chores in darkness, it’s really nice to have a light that moves with me and leaves me with both hands free.

When I’m walking the dogs, hauling game to a vehicle or home, or chipping/brushing/shoveling our vehicles free from winter’s grasp, a light that follows me around without adding much bulk, weight, or effort on my part is definitely worth the price of somebody’s fancy coffee or Big Mac meal.

Since headlamps are so affordable, and since they have the potential to increase my efficiency so much over having to cart a lamp or lantern around with me, since they take up so little room in storage for their backups and backup power sources, and since those power sources and chargers cross with so many other devices … for me, hands-free flashlights are absolutely a must-have item.

In bulk, if I’m a bartering type, because they’re just that useful in an outage and off-grid environments of all kinds.

Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Healthy Soil + Healthy Plants = Healthy You

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

When I say “hands-free light” I mean a miner/caver style headlamp or a clip-on cap light. I don’t mean a lantern or any equivalent. Lamps and lanterns have their place,

In the scenario where you and your family members would have to be able to rely on yourselves for a while or maybe even an indefinite time, first aid and home medical care should be among the skills you possess. That’s why making sure you acquire them should be among your key interests if you’re getting prepared for the worst that may come. No one is saying you should gain the skills of a neurosurgeon overnight, of course, but being able to craft up some home remedies and knowing a thing or two about what home care strategies to use for common ailments isn’t that hard. Luckily, the online community is ripe with advice and recipes for home remedies, so there are plenty of sources to learn from.

But while there’s an abundance of knowledge on what home remedies can be used for plenty of common health problems or injuries and such, not everyone learning about these things thinks about the needed tools too. If you read up on the various natural home remedies you can use for each type of common illness, you will see that some of them don’t really require much props besides a bandage, some massage and maybe a good night’s sleep.

We’re not going to go through all that here and now. Anyone can pretty much figure out how to massage a strained wrist or how to put a tight bandage over a light wound. The challenging part lies with crafting your own natural remedies out of plants and household ingredients. Most people only read up on this when they are already dealing with the issue. But since preppers always think things ahead and being ready for the down to earth practicalities of it all, you should also have a very clear image of the how-to involved, together with the tools and everyday household items needed for most of these natural cures. Here are our top picks, as well as the things you can use them for.

A Mortar and Pestle is excellent for grinding up herbs to be used in home remedies.

1. Mortar and pestle

This is the basic tool needed for crushing the plants or other medicine ingredients together into a form which is better absorbed by the human body. You will be able to use the mortar and pestle for a wide variety of cooking needs as well, not to mention the medical ones. If you make yourself a hefty supply of basic pills (like aspirin), you will be able to use the mortar and pestle for much more than natural remedies. For example, crushing some aspirin into a fine powder and applying it onto a bandage before putting it on a wound can greatly speed up the healing.

Related Content: Medicine to stock up on for when there is no doctor around

2. Salt and Vinegar

Salt and vinegar are substances you’d better stock up on as well. You can use them as carriers for a wide variety of natural extracts (which you craft using the mortar and pestle mentioned above, together with alcohol and bottles, as we’ll explain below). Salt can also be used for disinfecting areas in your house, killing flea eggs and thus keeping infestation at bay, (or even disinfecting small infected areas of your skin, like a nasty itch or a flaky scalp, in the absence of fancy shampoos).

Vinegar is also a good carrier for plant extracts, and can be used for good old fashion rubs (when dealing with a bad flu) as well. You can also help keep household items free of rust by treating them with vinegar (and oil).

3. Alcohol

After crushing the plant parts you need for crafting up a particular remedy, you need to put them to macerate in alcohol so that the liquid extracts and preserves the beneficial substances into a cure you can effectively use. Not to mention the other things alcohol is good for, from disinfecting wounds to sterilizing tools you will need for sewing up a medium cut and so on. As unpleasant as the thought may be now, you will be content to know everything there is to know if the situation should ever arise.

4. Brown glass bottles and vials

Those plant extracts you can use as natural remedies, crafted with the help of the mortar and pestle and alcohol, need to be stored somewhere. Glass vials and small glass bottles are your best bet, even if they tend to be fragile when hauled around. When preparing for any bad times which may come, choose recipients made out of brown glass (also called amber glass), since it protects the content from direct sunlight, which can damage the precious plant extracts inside and make them less effective.

5. Oils

Oils are also one of the best carriers for substances you extract for home remedies. Not only that they are able to preserve the active substance well, but they also are ideal for carrying them inside your body (through rubs). You can even add a few drops to your food whenever you feel sick and want to use the matching remedy if you previously crafted it (if the base oil you used is edible). So stock up on vials and some canola or olive oil before reading up on what remedies you can make like this.

6. Sugar

Sugar has plenty of uses besides its culinary ones: it can be used for scrubbing away dirt and harmful substances, and if you add a few drops of a plant-based home remedy to it you can also use it as a cure. Sugar can be used either externally (as a scrub infused with natural medicine, especially effective for skin irritations or funguses), or internally, to make certain bitter remedies more palatable (especially if there are kids in your family too).

7. Pocket knife

You will need the knife for several kinds of survival tactics, as any prepper is already well-aware, but you will also need it to carefully cut away the parts of plants you will use for home remedies. A smaller knife brings more precision to this task, which is why a pocket knife is the best fit, as long as it’s properly sharpened up. You will also use the knife for cutting up bandages, gently scraping up some solid substances you may need for the remedies, and so on.

8. Two stove kettles (one smaller and a good fit on top of the bigger one)

Finally, if you really want to do a good job with improvising natural medical remedies, you should have two small-ish kettles that you can use over a campfire as well as a stove and the likes. One of them should be smaller than the other one, so it can be placed over the larger (medium-sized) one. The procedure is similar to a bain-marie from cooking. The idea is that in the smaller stove some delicate substances extracted from plants should be cooked together for a cure at a smaller temperature than by using direct heat. Hence, the medium kettle will be filled with simmering water to distribute a more delicate and constant heat to the smaller one. Quite ingenious. This last technique is pretty advanced, but don’t worry, most natural home remedies you can make and use don’t require anything that complicated.

Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Healthy Soil + Healthy Plants = Healthy You

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

In the scenario where you and your family members would have to be able to rely on yourselves for a while or maybe even an indefinite time, first aid and

Some have already come and gone, because the season comes earlier and earlier every year, but for a lot of the country, tax-free shopping for school related supplies is right around the corner. There are also sales associated with back-to-school, the beginning of the hunting season cycle, and the changing of seasons that we can take advantage of, and some states and retailers will also be sticking some merchandise on sale for National Preparedness Month in September.

Along with those sales, retailers tend to throw a sale or two up ahead of the holiday rush in October and November to make room for new stock, and there are sometimes additional sales or tax holidays in August and September for preparedness and energy-saving appliances.

Check here The Ultimate Preppers List of Supplies

In some cases, taking advantage of tax holidays and sales is just about saving a little money that we can then apply to other budgets. In other cases, a sale or the absence of tax is what drops something inside our budget ranges.

Sometimes though, even when it’s not a preparedness-related sale, there are things we can stock up on that applies directly to preparing for the worst. Today we talk about how you can save on prepping supplies.

1. Savings For Stockpiles & To Apply Elsewhere

Clothes and hunting gear are an entire cookie for preppers, especially those with kids. Hand-me-downs and thrift stores are great, and I’ve made some great finds at the beginning of various weather and sportsman seasons at Salvation Army and Goodwill. Still, some things are nice to have fresh. If you’re trying to maintain an every-other-size stockpile for somebody who’s still growing, combining store sales with tax-free holidays can be a way to basically earn enough to pay for another garment or two.

Similarly, if we budget ahead of time, we can sometimes score electronics and appliances for gifts and our households without paying tax and sometimes with additional total-purchase or single-item discounts and store markdowns.

I don’t typically shell out enough to qualify for some of the energy-saving appliances or generators, but we’re all at different levels and not all of us head to Howard’s Appliance Center of Augusta or the Habitat Restore in Louisville. If there’s a big item on the docket for the next year or two, planning the purchase around a tax-free holiday is kind of a no brainer.

Saving 3 to 9% on a six-dollar pair of shoes doesn’t put that much change back in the jar. Saving 6% on a $1,200 generator or whole-house fan system, now … $72 will buy a fair bit of wheat, oatmeal, gauze pads, tampons, or mulch, and it’ll make a big dent in a battery-operated electric tool or weed-eater or a good pair of boots.

*Some stores will just offer a discount on total purchases during that weekend or the days and weeks leading up to school, and those can be great ways to save on pretty much anything.

2. Back-To-School Supplies for Preppers

Saving money is nice, but sometimes we don’t always see the potential in back-to-school tax-free and sale season for anything but clothes and potential savings that make the crumb snatchers a little more affordable. There are all kinds of things that qualify (by state – look up your rules and restrictions) that we will be buying another time or maybe haven’t even thought of.

There’s no way to cover all of them. We have some darn clever folks on this site who can undoubtedly think of another dozen examples each that back-to-school sales and tax-free holidays can make more affordable. Here’s my top twelve:

3. Maps

Some places will count their road atlases or county/state books as educational, and some states don’t care at all. That can lead to serious savings on our pre-printed atlases and maps.


4. Printer Paper & Toner

I’m constantly printing local area maps, pre-made missing posters, directions to natural resources and resource locations like pallet dumps and bamboo stands, DIY instructions for builds and even common repairs for things I would currently watch of YouTube, and recipes. I’m also routinely printing user manuals for tools and appliances that I pick up second hand.

Paper and toner can help with entertainment and education as well.

I can create my own search-a-word and crossword puzzles with some free sites to have on hand for holidays and birthdays even for adults, and I can print preexisting targets, puzzles, games and coloring sheets to help break monotony. Homeschooling site downloads can ensure any children will continue to be at least somewhat educated even if that great big disaster occurs.

We can print out all kinds of things, and if we’re going to go that road, we might as well budget and get as much of it on sale and tax free as possible.

5. Scissors

Some states and stores will restrict the types of scissors you get, but if they’re anywhere on the list, most will include anything but kitchen and garden shears. Scissors are one of those things that makes our life easier, so if you need some good ones for trimming hair, cutting herbs, and getting into packaging, now’s a good time to get them.


6. Colored Pencils, #2 Pencils

They’re not just for kids. When I come do a site assessment, I routinely have a pencil. The colored pencils don’t erase real well, but they also don’t smear even as much as lead/graphite, and they sure don’t run or bleed in 40-70% humidity or rain like ink will. Sure, I could buy special notebooks and paper, but why spend more?

7. Notebooks, Binders

This can be a chance to get good notebooks with binder-insert holes and heavy-duty paper instead of the cheap-o’s. A variety of sizes is great to have on hand for daily life, but especially if we want to stick a couple of mini’s or steno-sized or half-sized notebooks in plastic baggies and then a backpack or pocket to carry around.


Clear contact paper or similar plastic craft sheets have a multitude of uses in daily life and preparedness.

8. Contact Paper/Plastic Sheeting

This stuff can not only make our carry-around maps a little more durable, they’re great for covering maps to pin to walls. Leave a border of the plastic around them and use a map pen or grease pencil over top of the contact sheet, and we never punch any holes or totally booger up what can be a precious resource even today.

We can also basically double-over contact paper to make a durable but easy-folding and easy-rolling overlay sheet – or twenty – that can keep information like resource locations, cache locations, and points of defensive or evasive interest separate.

In the same vein, if we attach our doubled-up sheet to a dowel or two, we now have a portable board that we can carry around with us to neighbors, to educate a handful of kids at once, to explain to the existing residents why it’s in everyone’s interest to pitch in on a fire break, and to facilitate trade between households.

We can also slap this stuff against a lot of walls, and instantly have a dry erase board for tracking chores, harvest, canning, a monthly calendar, or working out build designs or homework problems.

(A lot of those can also be accomplished by hanging a sheet on the other side of a window, but a couple rolls of contact paper is cheaper and lighter to move around, and won’t kill or injure anybody if it falls off the wall.)


Chalkboard spray paint lets us turn a wall or a spare board into a reusable writing surface for daily life or emergencies.

9. Chalkboards, Chalkboard spray paint, dry erase boards

All of these offer a reusable alternative to paper without resorting to charcoal on walls, today and in an emergency. It could be keeping score in a game, it could be teaching a kid order of precedence for mathematical equations, it could be a whiteboard class, or it could be mapping plans for the homestead’s planting or defense. A variety of sizes are out there, from lap boards to wall-fillers.

10. Alcohol Pens, Dry Erase Markers, Map Pens

Some will be on sale or tax free by state, some won’t. They’re handy to have for all the same reasons listed in contact paper above.


Images: Ultra fine dry erase and permanent map pens are commonly counted as school supplies during tax-free weekends and store promotions.


11. Super Glue, Wood Glue

Super glue and wood glue will routinely slide into the arts and crafts headings of back-to-school sales and tax-free weekends. Humanity got along without them for millennia, but they sure do make some fixes nice and easy. Elmer now sells a glue-all that’s pretty good and that slides right through with other school supplies if a store is being resistant.

12. Duct tape

Sometimes you have to get the crafty colored versions of this to qualify during the back-to-school season, and there’s not always enough savings to justify the cost. However, if there’s a sale, this is one to jump on, because from little holes in screens to hanging curtains over windows for light discipline, duct tape does so much for us even outside of the tool box and range bag.

13. Hygiene

Some states are now recognizing the endless lists students are supposed to report with, and including things like tissue paper of both types, hand sanitizer, liquid hand soap, paper towels and bleach/Lysol wipes in their tax exemptions. Some will do it for preparedness weekends, too, but back-to-school is where I see them most often.

14. Hats, brimmed

It’s not clothing or accessories. It’s gear. Honest.

With my father and man-of-the-house, and my own slight addictions, I can’t imagine not already having a ton of hats on hand. They’re also not something I expect to be totally un-findable in a world-ending event. However, I grew up in the Deep South, spend a lot of time on boats and near shorelines, and lived in Arizona for years. A hat with a brim really is life and death in some places, not only for its shading and prevention of open sunburn blisters on ears and necks, but also by saving the eyes in snow as well as woods and fields and especially urban environments. Brimmed hats can also keep rain out from under the back of your collar and from streaming down your ears.

Ball caps and knit ski caps totally have their place, but if a state is allowing for hats, it might not be a bad idea to pick up one with a brim. Boonie styles can be wedged in nearly as small a space as a ball cap, there is a reason cowboy and ranch styles are still worn while working, and there are a whole array of sports types with a full-circumference brims to fit both hot and cold seasons.

15. Do Your Homework

We can save a lot of money and be better prepared for storms, personal reversals, and crises of major proportions by taking advantage of tax holidays and seasonal sales. There are numerous sites that list tax holiday weekends. I happen to like this one.

It breaks tax-free weekends down by state and then the untaxed items, and it provides quick links to the specific pages for each state’s rules and requirements. Definitely read the rules and requirements, because states like to include and exclude some oddball stuff. Regularly.

It would not be crazy talk to print out and carry the applicable untaxed or sale items list and carry it to the store(s) with you. This is the only way a buddy of mine got the entire staff of a hardware store in Virginia to actually abide by the state tax holiday, because they were totally unaware. It’s also nice just to keep it handy instead of relying on memory or the shopping list.

The link above undoubtedly misses things, and there are a number of states that usually run a weekend somewhere between August-November to push either appliances or generators and other preparedness items that aren’t listed yet. That happens with all of them. For example, this is the only one that lists Texas’s new preparedness category for the August 5-7 weekend that I’ve found. If I hadn’t already known about it, I could have missed it.

Prevent those regrets by searching your state, any surrounding states if you’re on a border or the savings would be worth a couple tanks of gas, and “tax free” or “tax holiday”.

Here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)
Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)
The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)
The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Sometimes though, even when it’s not a preparedness-related sale, there are things we can stock up on that applies directly to preparing for the worst.

As preppers we strive to acquire skills, knowledge and yes tools that can assist us should we ever be faced with dire circumstances. The actual disaster that you might be facing and you own situation at the present time would necessarily determine what would be required of you to survive. For instance there might be a wildfire burning in the next county over with winds driving toward your house. With some time you could pack the family in the wagon and head out onto the highway to find a hotel or stay with friends a safe distance away. This is a real survival situation for you if the flames were approaching and by the act of bugging out you were responsible for saving your family. Had the flames kept going and you didn’t leave they all might have perished with you if the fire reached your front door.

But for some of us we don’t look at that example as a survival scenario. You had a car and the banks were working as well as your cell phone. You had a place to go and have plenty of clean, dry clothes in your bags packed safely in the mini-van that you just refilled because the pumps are still working fine. You are still able to buy food at a restaurant and aside from the fire, everyone is safe.

A survival situation doesn’t have to look like a reality TV show. I think far too many people imagine survival as being dropped onto a deserted island with nothing but a knife, water bottle (5 camera men) and your wits to keep you alive. Do these things happen to some people? Sure, but not usually unless you purposely head out into nature with the express intent of getting far away. I know that you can get into danger by simply hiking local nature trails over the weekend but how many of us living in the city or suburbs (outside of some real crisis) have to look for shelter, food, find our way to civilization or make a fire?

When I talk about survival tools I am not coming at this from the standpoint of surviving in the jungles of Central America but these emergency survival tools could help there too. Survival to me is staying alive regardless of the location and these five emergency survival tools will help you maintain room temperature.

Can you cut it?

I have been asked this before but I do think the single most important survival tool besides a clear calm head is a knife. Knives have been around forever because they are so incredibly useful. You might think that you wouldn’t need a knife unless you were whittling a stick into a spear or slicing the skin off some animal you trapped in a snare, but you would be wrong. Knives offer so many uses that their importance can’t be overstated.

OK, so you believe you need a knife, but what kind of survival knife? How would you carry it? How much should you spend on a good survival knife? These are all great questions, but each individual needs to answer them for yourself. I will give you my two cents though. There are really two types of knifes for me. There is my big knife for cutting big things and taking a beating and then I have a smaller knife for cutting smaller things. It is not as sturdy.


Kershaw Leek – Excellent EDC knife

Why have two types? It comes down to convenience really. For my EDC (Every Day Carry) knife that I have on my person at all times away from home and usually in my home I have a small folding knife. Now it isn’t so small that I can’t cut anything with it, but it isn’t too large that I can’t stick it in my pocket. I have this because the closest thing I am going to be getting to lost in the wilderness is a park. My small folding knife will still cut almost anything I would need it to and it’s compact size makes it easy for me to carry every day to work.

If I am going into the woods as I hope to do here in the next few weeks with my survival dog on sabbatical, I will leave the folding knife at home and carry my larger Gerber LMF II. This knife is a fixed blade that is far sturdier than my folder and can be used to chop down small trees if I need to. Both of them have a purpose and I chose my knife based upon where I will be, but I always have one on me. You should too.

Looking for love in all the wrong places?

Have you ever been lost? If you are taking a walk in the woods you should carry a compass and a map. I have and love my GPS, but if that goes out I still have my map and a compass. With a compass you don’t have to worry about EMP rendering your device out of commission. Actually, where I have been backpacking we sometimes lose the satellite signal so my compass is the low tech fallback option for finding my way back home to my family.


A great compass is a simple lifesaving survival tool

Now, it’s all well and good to have a compass but you need to know how to use a compass and map too? Most anyone I know can pick one up, point it and say, ‘that way’s North’ with authority but will that be enough? Check out this great video on using a compass and map if you need a refresher.

Come on baby light my fire!

If I had a dollar for all the articles I had seen (and a few I have written myself) about the importance of being able to start a fire, I would have… I don’t know; a hundred bucks? Suffice it to say that there are a lot of people out there who are trying to convey the importance of being able to start a fire. Why is fire so important? Just like these other survival tools, it can save your life.


BlastMatch – Single hand operation

You can learn how to start a fire with a fire plough or the magnifying glass trick or my personal favorite, starting a fire with a bottle of water but really there are easier options. The easiest option is a simple Bic lighter. I have dozens of these strewn around the house and in both my bug out bags, get home bags and the bag I take hiking with me. They are cheap, easy to use and do what they are supposed to do. But, what if they get wet?

Two alternatives to the good old Bic lighter are both called fire steels. I have a Swedish Fire Steel which is a rod that you need to strike with a stainless steel striker or the back of your knife blade to make sparks that are over 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit!! This isn’t just cheap fireworks when you are bored but combine this with the proper amount of dry tinder or WetFire cubes and you will have a flame in no time.

I also have a BlastMatch all-weather fire starter which is the same concept but you can use this one-handed. Perfect for if you are injured or you need to use one hand to block the wind or keep that bear at bay. Both of these great survival tools are waterproof so that gives them an advantage over matches (unless they are waterproof obviously) and Bic lighters. Sure a Bic will dry out if you have the time, but what if you just escaped a raging river, all your gear is soaked, the sun is going down and you are freezing cold? Also, they will last for thousands of fires and you can’t say the same for matches.

Gimme Shelter


Survival Bivvy

Quick, what is the first thing that will kill you? Lack of food? Dehydration from no water? A backhand from a Polar Bear? If you answered polar bear I might have to give that one to you but unless you are in the arctic or dumb enough to climb the fence at your local zoo, the chances of you seeing a polar bear are slim.

Most people fret about starving or dying of thirst though and that isn’t really what you have to worry about the most. Exposure will kill you faster than thirst or hunger and it is something to consider. Have you heard of the rule of threes? The rule of threes goes something like this:

  • You can live three minutes without air
  • You can live three hours without shelter
  • You can live three days without water
  • You can live three weeks without food

Now before you start saying that the most important thing is air, let’s just say that this is a given. If you are suffocating you definitely have big problems, but that isn’t likely either. Most of those survival shows I talked about at the beginning show you how to scavenge for food if you are lost in the wilderness, but like the rule of three says, you can go weeks without food. Will it be fun? No, but you do have bigger problems.

Shelter in this rule means getting too cold (hypothermia) or two hot (hyperthermia) and both are just as bad for your body. If you find yourself in a survival situation there is a tool that you can use to regulate your body temperature and this can keep you alive. In the heat you have to get out of the sun. In the cold you have to conserve heat and a survival bivvy works great for both purposes. As a sun shade you can turn the survival bivvy inside out and let the reflective material reflect the sun off you. It also doubles as a signaling device. When you are cold, climb into the bag and the reflective material will reflect your own body heat back on you keeping you warm.


Fenix Headlamp – Perfect for hands free tasks in zero visibility

I can see clearly now!

Lastly, and one of my favorite survival tools is a flashlight. Well, more precisely it is light because light can solve a world of problems. Can you imagine being lost and not being able to see? One wrong step could land you in a hole that might break your ankle or you could step off a cliff. When I am backpacking I have a Fenix headlamp that I love. I just strap this to my head and I can walk around and do most anything I normally would because I can see clearly where I am going, what is ahead of me and I don’t have to use my hands.

During the day a headlamp is a little bit much but I also carry a small but bright flashlight as part of my EDC. You would be surprised how often I have to use this thing so it does come in handy.

What are some of your favorite survival tools?

As preppers we strive to acquire skills, knowledge and yes tools that can assist us should we ever be faced with dire circumstances. The actual disaster that you might be

Equipped with a large database of knowledge, co workers and all the equipment/supplies they need at their fingers tips.. it is no secret that America is home to some of the best doctors and medical professionals in the world. If SHTF, what happens if all the lights go out? Would the equipment still function? What if all the supplies run out? What if all the doctors are sent to make-shift-camps or hunkered down with their own families? What if there is no hospital, no 911, no help coming?

Believe it or not, this actually happens all around the world each and every day. Out there right now there are doctors, nurses and medics working around the clock without power or computers, without their co workers, without all the fancy equipment.. They are equipped with nothing more than their knowledge and whatever is packed into their medical bags. That is right, they are saving lives out of the contents of their medical bags.

Most of us are not doctors nor do we have access to the same kind of supplies that they do. However, having a medical bag is one of the most important things we should all consider while preparing for those situations we hope never happen. You may be wondering what to put in your own medical bag or if you are forgetting anything so I’ve provided my own list to help get you started.

The Medical Bag

Elite First Aid Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic Kit Bag, Large – $132

There are all kinds of options out there for medical bags. Use what works best for you. I have seen people use back packs, tackles boxes and shoulder bags. I personally went with the shoulder bag because my bug out bag is a back pack and I only have one back. I also would like to keep both of my hands free so this was the best option for me.

Sanitation and Personal Protection

Regardless of the emergency, sanitation is not something that should never be overlooked. For your own protection and the protection of your patient, always WASH YOUR HANDS!!!! I cannot stress the importance of hand washing. For this reason and so you never forget.. choose the most easy to access part of your bag to store your sanitation supplies. Most of these items can be found at your local dollar store so there are no excuses not to be hygienic when providing first aid. These very simple step could mean the difference between life or death.

**Tip: Keep a small zip-lock bag with a maxi pad and bandanna in with your sanitation supplies. In the event someone is bleeding you can buy yourself a minute to wash up by having the injured use the maxi pad to apply direct pressure, if they are unable, you can hold it in place with the bandanna.

Items to include:

  • Bar of hand soap and a case to put it in (dollar store)
  • 4 oz hibiclens hand cleanser (if your budget allows)
  • Nail clippers, nail file, scrub brush (keep nails short and clean – dollar store)
  • Large bottle of hand sanitizer (you will need a lot of this – dollar store)
  • Hand disinfecting wipes (for when washing isn’t possible $2 at pharmacy)
  • 2 oz hand cream (sanitizer and gloves dry out your hands – dollar store)
  • 3 mini soaps/3 mini hand santizers (these are for giving away. It is important to keep the patient clean, too – dollar store)
  • 50 pairs of latex free gloves (latex is a common allergy)
  • 3 pairs nitrile gloves
  • 10 surgical masks
  • 3 N-95 masks
  • 10-20 surface disinfecting wipes (dollar store)
  • 10 puppy training pads (will work well as underpads – dollar store)
  • 10 garbage bags (for plastic backing – dollar store)
  • 5 bio hazard bags (if budget allows)

First Aid Kit Emergency Response Trauma Bag Complete


The more we have to work with, the easier it will be so some basic equipment is good to have. If your budget is tight you can pick up some of these items at the dollar store and then add the rest when you are able

**Tip: Know how to use these items!! They are all easy to use, I promise.

Rescue Essentials Shears EMT/Scissors Combo Pack with Holster, Tactical All Black

Items to include:

Wound Care

From superficial scrapes to life threatening bleeding it is no surprise that there are millions of wound care products out there. Try not to get too overwhelmed with this. The first thing we need to do is to make sure that whatever caused the injury is no longer a threat. We then need to make sure the person wants our help!! Before we rush in to play doctor, we should always let the injured person know who we are and what training we may have. In the event this person is or at any time becomes unconscious implied consent is given. Once we have established that there is no current threat to ourselves and that we have consent to help then the main objectives are to stop the bleeding, monitor for shock and prevent infection. It may be wise to divide this into 3 sections so if you are ever in a panic, you’ll be less likely to miss a step.

**Tip: Pack what items you can afford then add to it as you are able to.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

Items to include:

Bleeding Control

Wound Cleaning

**Tip: this will be a lot easier if you can keep the person calm. Consider pain management ideas for while you are treating. Flushing a wound with clean drinkable water will be the ideal method. You may need to pick out tiny pebbles or dirt with tweezers and possibly even scrub it. It is very important to make sure the wound is clean. You will then want to use an antiseptic such as peroxide, alcohol or iodine. If a person had been bitten, infection is much more likely use a BZK wipe.

  • Stress ball (give it to the patient to squeeze but never in the arm they are bleeding from)
  • 5 paper bags (having the patient breathe into one for a couple of minutes may help distract them and will remind them to breathe)
  • Dermoplast antibacterial spray (this works wonders on pain for after birth, scrapes and cuts)
  • 4oz of drinking water (something so simple may not be available if you don’t pack it)
  • 60cc irrigation syringe and a perinatal bottle (I personally get better pressure with the perinatal bottle)
  • Tick remover
  • Poison ivy soap bar
  • 50 alcohol wipes
  • 10 Sting wipes
  • 5-10 BZK wipes
  • hydrogen peroxide (dollar store)
  • 1 oz (30ml) iodine

Wound Closure

It is almost never a good idea to close a wound in a non-sterile setting, you can pack a suture kit for just in case but this should be a last resort. I did not pack a stapler because I personally am not comfortable with using for a number of reasons.

  • 100s of different size band-aids (dollar store)
  • Mole skin
  • 50 butterfly closures
  • liquid band-aid
  • super glue (dollar store)
  • Suture kit
  • 10 triple antibiotic ointment packets (you can buy a tube but this would be cleaner)
  • Burn gel (for pain relief)
  • Vaseline (for making non-stick dressing)


  • 50 2×2 gauze pads
  • 50 4×4 gauze pads
  • 10 8×10 ABD pads
  • Rolls of gauze (at the very least 2 in different sizes)
  • Medical tape
  • Reusable cold packs (for swelling)
  • Ace wrap (for sprains)
  • 1-3 triangular bandages

Other emergencies

If possible divide up other emergency supplies into sections to keep them more organized and easier to access. Try to keep these in plain view when you open your bag.

Items to include:

Section 1 – Breathing Difficulty/Chest Pains

  • Manual suction device with extra tubing
  • Areochamber mask with asthma inhalers (if someone in your group has asthma)
  • Berman oral airway kit (has 6 different sizes)
  • Children’s liquid benadryl and syringe (this works slightly faster then the tablets)
  • 10 aspirin (if you suspect a heart attack)
  • 2 CPR masks (one for you and one your assistant if you are lucky enough to have one, CPR is exhausting)

Section 2 – Hypothermia

Section 3- Dehydration/Low Blood Sugar/Weakness

Section 4 – Eyes and Ears

Section 5 – Nose, Lips and Throat

  • Saline Nasal Spray
  • Bulb syringe (for babies)
  • 3-6 Vicks Vapor Inhaler (if one person gets sick you all might and these shouldn’t be shared – dollar store)
  • Chapstick (dollar store)
  • Blistex (dollar store)
  • Abreva coldsore treatment
  • Vicks Vapor Rub (dollar store)
  • Throat lozenges

Section 6 –  Oral/Dental


If you are reading this.. then chances are pretty good that you can still run out to the local pharmacy whenever you may need to. If SHTF easy to access pharmacies may become a thing of the past. Without power and oil production it would become extremely difficult for pharmacies (or any stores for that matter) to re stock their shelves. This is why it is so important to buy these things while we still can and while we still have health care professionals to ask all our questions to.

First and foremost, everyone with medical needs should pack at least a 30 day supply (the more the better) of any medications that have already been prescribed or recommend to you by your doctor, pharmacist or health care provider. Nothing you read on the internet should ever substitute the advice from your health care provider. Seek their care and medical advice whenever necessary for as long as it is available.

The amount of medications you should pack is going to vary greatly from person to person. I recommend packing enough for yourself and at least one other person, if you can. If you have a larger group then pack accordingly. I have not included any amounts as to how much you should pack because it is important for you to carefully think numbers through based on your own groups size. Talk to your health provider before taking any new medications.

Again, you may pack these however you choose but breaking them to sections may help you find what you need faster. Toiletry kits work great for this.

Items to Consider:

Bag 1 – Indigestion and Upset Tummies

  • Tums (for heartburn)
  • Antacids (for more severe Indigestion)
  • Ginger and Peppermint tea bags (a natural aid for nausea and upset tummies)
  • Gravol tablets (for adults and children – for motion sickness, nausea and vomiting)
  • Pepto tablets (for all your tummy needs)
  • Metamucil (for constipation)
  • Anti Diarrhea tablets
  • Small cup (for the tea)

Bag 2- Fever, Pain and Discomfort

  • Tylenol (for infants, children and adults)
  • Advil (for adults) and children’s Motrin
  • Ultra strength advil liquid gels (works faster)
  • Muscle Rub (for sore muscles)
  • Preparation h (hemorrhoids)
  • Gold Bond Powder (foot odor)
  • Vaseline and Diaper ointment (I highly recommend Beaudreaus butt paste – for rashes)
  • Cold pack and heat pack
  • Numb 520 with 5% lidocaine (amazing deep numbing pain relief, this will numb someone enough for suturing)
  • Vasocaine Numbing Spray (also amazing, it’s mostly used for tattoos)

Bag 3- Infections and Supplements

  • Rehydration salts (yes, I’ve included these twice)
  • Activated Charcoal (accidental ingestion of toxins)
  • Colloidal silver (Talk to a health care provider first)
  • Oral Antibiotics (for infection – I’ve chosen 3 – talk to your health care provider)
  • Essential oils (tea tree, clove, lavender, eucalyptus and oil of oregano were my choices)
  • Polysporin and Neosporin (for minor scrapes and burns)
  • Triple Antibiotic Ointment (in a tube)
  • Honey
  • Foot Fungal Ointment
  • Nystatin (yeast infections)
  • Monistat (yeast infections)
  • Hydrocortisone Cream (treats many skin conditions)
  • Children’s vitamins (Safe for pregnant woman, children and adults)
  • Vitamin D drops (for breastfed babies)
  • Iron supplements (after blood loss)


I have saved the best for last.. Education. Take all the classes you can and read all the books you can get your hands on.  In fact,  pack your favorites in your very own medical bag!! One of my personal favorites is “Where There is no Doctor“. It is also completely FREE to call or drop in to your local pharmacy to ask all the questions you may have about any items you are including in your own medical bag. Talk  to your doctor about any pre existing conditions or concerns. Your knowledge is your best chance of survival.

P.S) Don’t forget to WASH YOUR HANDS!!

Equipped with a large database of knowledge, co workers and all the equipment/supplies they need at their fingers tips.. it is no secret that America is home to some of

While many want to avoid the pitfalls that come with Murphy’s Law, not many know the origin of the famed mid-20th century adage.

As the story goes, Capt. Edward A. Murphy prevented a potentially devastating mistake from happening at Edwards Air Force Base by a technician and muttered, “If there was a wrong way to do something, the technician in question would find a way to do it.” This utterance has evolved into the adage many of us know today: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” At the completion of the project, the project manager attributed its success to “avoiding Murphy’s Law.”

In a sense, all prepping and survival work is an attempt at avoiding Murphy’s Law, and to successfully circumvent the ever present threat of what can go wrong, you have to stay two steps ahead in planning.

When stocking your hideout bunker, anticipate every need that may arise in a state of emergency or natural disaster. Every good prepper knows you will need food, water and first-aid supplies, so let’s skip ahead to some of the supplies you may not have considered to help you counter Murphy’s Law. What you do now before an emergency happens to stock your bunker or even your home could help you survive.

Potassium Iodide Tablets

A rather frustrating aspect of prepping for a full-on disaster is that you really don’t know what type of disaster may be coming your way. In the event of nuclear fallout, it’s crucial to have a plan for surviving radioactivity. Explosions from a nuclear source generate massive amounts of radioactive iodine. In this scenario, potassium iodide tablets may be your only hope.


The Secure Home – If you want to build your own bunker, this is a great resource.

Upon learning of the explosion, take one of these tablets immediately, as they can protect your thyroid from radioactive iodine, which causes cancer. Once radioactive iodine is airborne, you run the risk of inhaling or ingesting it. But if you consume the tablets before or immediately after exposure, your thyroid will be flooded with potassium iodide, thereby reducing the risk of your thyroid absorbing the toxic element.

The tablets are fairly in expensive and can be purchased over the counter at any drug store or online.

Five-Gallon Buckets

If the disaster at hand is not nuclear, there are still items for survival you may have overlooked. Sure, it’s gross to think about, but where exactly do you plan on going to the bathroom in a bunker? Chances are you won’t have any indoor plumbing, but all members of your survival party will eventually have to go “see a man about a horse.”

Five-gallon buckets have other uses for storage and transport, but no other purpose is of as much importance as substituting for a toilet. Be sure you also have trash bags on hand to line the bucket in order to minimize the mess when it comes time to empty the latrine.

You can find them at your local hardware store.


Old tires have a lot of uses if you are creative.

Spare Tires

Not only are heavy-duty tires necessary to keep your wheels in motion, but they also have many applications within the bunker as well. Tires can easily be fashioned into tables and chairs, and can serve as an excellent material for barricading doors. If the stack of tires is thick enough, it can withstand or ricochet certain shells in the event of an attack. Stock up early from an online retailer like tirebuyer.com.

Don’t let Murphy’s Law take you by surprise. If anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, then be sure you have the supplies you need to deal with it. As another popular adage goes, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

While many want to avoid the pitfalls that come with Murphy’s Law, not many know the origin of the famed mid-20th century adage. As the story goes, Capt. Edward A. Murphy

When preparing for emergencies in our lives, preppers often tend to focus first on reactionary needs. We can envision the possibility of a disastrous event happening and we plan for and prepare a response for that event. If we are unable to make it to the store for some reason, we store food and water to take care of our family’s most basic needs. Should we be attacked, we train for self-defense, acquire tools and supplies to even the odds and make plans to defend our castle in the worst case scenario. Many preppers view their plans as solid and naturally expect the other 90% of the population who (we are convinced) hasn’t made any preparations to eventually, some day, show up and try to take what they have. In this case, there is always the expectation of conflict and we routinely discuss how we envision that ending.

But what if we could modify our thought process for a while and first plan on avoiding conflict when SHTF instead of considering violence as the inevitable outcome of the prepper haves versus the unprepared have-nots? For those of you who have been reading the Final Prepper since we started, no I haven’t gone all soft. I still very much expect and prepare for violent action if necessary, but I think too often that is the default prepper or survivalist’s response. I certainly don’t want to ever have to defend my life with deadly force, but I believe in my core that I will do what is necessary to protect the lives of my friends family and any strangers I see who need it. I thought this latest installment of our Back to Basics series could focus on some alternatives to conflict that could end up saving lives in the right situation.

The scenarios I mention below and what usually flavor most articles on this site will assume that some massive disaster has happened. The SHTF event you have been preparing for has occurred and almost instantly you have choices to make. How you decide to handle each situation could mean the difference between coming out alive or suffering needlessly.

Why should we try to avoid conflict?

There are many reasons I can see for eventually engaging in conflict, especially when we are considering a true SHTF scenario. I would argue that there could be just as many if not more reasons why should be avoiding conflict at all costs. Perhaps it’s simpler to say that conflict avoidance should be the first tact you try. Escalations may be a foregone conclusion, but only when you have no other options. Some readers and commenters will say that when lives are on the line, it’s safer to simply blast someone in the face than try to bargain or negotiate but I would argue that taking that approach goes against some of the philosophy that I believe most preppers believe in.

Preppers want to live. The want to succeed, to thrive, to overcome obstacles. Preppers and prepping is about hope even when the events we seem to fear would lead many to feel hopeless. I believe that there is a reason we are prepping and it isn’t simply to see how many zombie bodies and empty shell casings we can pile up at our feet. We want a different life perhaps, but it doesn’t automatically come at the expense of everyone else.

Conflict with another person, or people will take a toll on you. Sometimes that toll is lives. Other times it could be the loss of close friends or family. It could be a deal to trade goods that goes the wrong way, the loss of someone who can support you, or the loss of a resource you may need to survive. In a true SHTF scenario, your little survival group is going to need all the help it can get so playing nice as much as is prudent will be to your advantage.

Avoiding Conflict with Looters

I think that one of the first effects of a major SHTF scenario will be migration out of the major metropolitan areas. Looting will follow as the people who stayed behind scrounge for supplies they want in homes and businesses. Any location that appears to have resources the looters need will be a target when the threat of incarceration is gone. When there is no longer any rule of law, even little old grannies will be looting if they want to survive.


Looters in the days closely following the SHTF event will be looking for targets of opportunity. They certainly won’t take on an armed group at first but as the situation deteriorates, they could come back and with more practice and armed with greater numbers. Sure, you could put on a show of force, but you might want to save that for later.

The concepts of the Grey Neighbor come into play here and by simply making your house appear to already have been looted; you might avoid someone viewing your house as a target. Throw some trash and clothes in the yard. Smash a window – provided you can seal that back up with some black plastic. Spray paint some graffiti on the front wall and rip the screen door off one hinge. It may work just enough to make lazier looters skip on past your house.

Avoiding Conflict with your neighbors

This one is trickier because looters might not live next door to you, but your neighbors will be able to watch what is going on at your house all day long. The last thing you want is to have your neighbor working against you. They could turn you in to the authorities as a hoarder and all your supplies could be confiscated. Or, they could form a group against you to take what you have by force, citing the common good. Neighbors would ideally be part of your larger group well in advance of any conflict, but that still could arise if they are desperate.


After the event has settled, check in on your neighbors and see if they need help with anything. It will arouse much less suspicion to dole out some charity early on in the form of food and water when normal supplies would not be exhausted. Offer to let them use some generator time possibly. If you wait for 3 months after the stores have been closed and offer them a sack of rice and some beans and then will be very curious as to why you still have supplies and what else you might have. Help them out and if you feel you can trust them, invite them into your group for mutual aid. They might only be able to contribute extra, willing hands but it would be better than having them as your enemy if you can afford the burden. As with everything else, you will have to make choices about who you open up to.

Avoiding Conflict with your survival group

Many of us already have a stocked bug out retreat ready to go. Even the most prepared group is going to have high levels of stress when you are forced into a less than ideal situation after the SHTF. Tempers will flare and there will be decisions that are met with disagreement. In a very toxic situation, the group could splinter leading to power struggles and worse.

Any survival group that is going to succeed will need to have a set of clearly defined rules and everyone’s strict adherence will be necessary. The longer you have been a group and the more times you have been together the better off you will fare but the larger picture is that the group’s survival depends on each member contributing and sometimes sacrificing for the good of the overall group. Negotiation skills and open communication will be key.

Avoiding Conflict with your family

For most of us, our survival group is simply our family. We don’t have a cadre of ex-mil buddies who have been training for years and have fortified bunkers under our ultra-rural enclave in the hills. We will just have the people we are around every day, maybe a couple of friends or extended family that you take in. For people in this situation, I think that fear will be more heightened for the majority of them; they won’t have had the opportunity to think anything through as you have potentially. The unknowns and worry will be huge stressors that they will have to come to grips with and you as the leader will have to manage.


As a leader, you are going to need to exhibit a greater sense of calm than you probably ever would in your day-to-day life simply because everyone will be looking to you for answers. If you are the go-to prepper in the family, there will be many questions. Every decision you make will likely be questioned because the people you are surrounded with don’t know what you do and bring their own opinions and beliefs to every situation.

In the very beginning, as soon as it is practical, you need to sit everyone down and tell them everything you know, what you plan to do and why you think your decisions are best. It may be necessary to get group consensus or create a micro dictatorship for a while. It really depends on the crisis, the people you are dealing with and your style. The main goal is to keep everyone safe and these are probably the people you care most about. Let them know they will be fine, you have a plan and you are prepared. Then prove it with your actions.

Avoiding Conflict with other survivors

Lastly, if you have made it through the disaster, you will be dealing with other survivors. I believe neighborhoods will form communities very quickly post-disaster but due to geography, neighborhoods might remain somewhat isolated. As time goes on, you will meet other people and hopefully form friendships, perhaps barter or simply form a larger community to share resources. Every other group has been through their own tragedy, they have their own fears and securities. Understanding this and helping them mutually, after precautions have been made will be better than some turf war over the garden.

In almost every situation I can think of besides someone kicking down your front door, or shooting at you from the wood line, there is a very good reason to try to avoid conflict. Strangers can become friends. Even enemies can let past grievances die. In a SHTF scenario, if you want to live, avoiding conflict will be one of the highest priorities.

When preparing for emergencies in our lives, preppers often tend to focus first on reactionary needs. We can envision the possibility of a disastrous event happening and we plan for