Survival 103: Disaster Preparedness

Back To Main
Survival 102: Applying Basic First Aid

Pay attention to your house’s structure and location

Highly insulated homes make intense cold weather more bearable, especially ones with insulated windows

Make sure each load-bearing wall has strong foundations to anchor it for an earthquake

If your house is at a lower altitude, it’s more susceptible to flooding

The nearer your house is to a fire station or school, the more quickly you’ll receive help

Stockpile everything for a natural disaster

Measure your freezer’s status with a coin in a cup

  1. Freeze a mug of water in the freezer
  2. Place a coin on top of it
  3. The coin will sink if the freezer ever stops freezing

Pack everything together in case you need to throw it in a truck

Keep everything somewhere like a closet, garage or under a bed that would stay relatively safe in an earthquake or flood

Keep perishable items in a cool, dark location

Use a large sealed container, preferably with wheels

  • Choose a size which fits your needs
  • The easiest solution is a large new trash can

Store water in plastic containers

Avoid containers that might decompose or break

  • Don’t use containers that had milk or fruit juice in them
    • Milk protein and fruit sugars are difficult to remove from containers and breed bacteria
  • Fill two-liter plastic soda bottles cleaned with bleach

Store a gallon of water per person per day, and account for pets

  • two quarts for drinking and two quarts for food preparation and sanitation
  • Keep at least three days’ supply
  • Change out the water every six months
  • Alternately, store 4-6% unscented sodium hypochlorite bleach to purify the water

Store food in airtight containers

Store enough food to last three to ten days

  • People eat about a pound of food per day and usually more when stressed
  • Pets need an ounce for every pound they weigh for each day (e.g., a 15-pound dog needs 15 ounces a day)

Don’t store rice, pasta or dry beans since they require significant water to prepare

Store ready-to-eat food which won’t increase thirst

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables
  • Canned juices, milk, soup
  • Sugar, salt, pepper
  • High-energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
  • Energy bars
  • Ramen packets

Daily multivitamins

Special foods for infants, elderly, or special dietary needs

Include comfort or stress foods

  • Cookies
  • Hard candy
  • Sweetened cereals
  • Lollipops
  • Instant coffee and tea bags

Keep the correct utensils near your food

  • Non-electric can opener or utility knife
  • Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
  • Plastic storage containers

Eat through and restock your emergency rations once a year

Pack clothing and personal care items

Several changes of clothes along with a set of dress clothes


Extra sets of warm clothes (avoid cotton for cold weather)


Lip balm

Camp soap

Extra blankets and pillows

  • Great for warmth and drying off

Toilet paper

Comfortable shoes for everyone

Extra medications, extra glasses or contact lenses

Toothbrushes and toothpaste (mouth infections are a significant survival risk)

Keep tools and supplies available

Extra kerosene for heating

Ponchos and raincoats

Flashlight with extra batteries

Light sticks, signal flares, and camping lantern with extra fuel

Plenty of duct tape, aluminum foil, rope, and zip ties

Matches in a waterproof container, lighter, and lighter fluid

A basic tool kit with screwdrivers, screws, pliers, hammer, nails, and multi-tool

Knives and knife sharpeners, preferably carbon steel more than stainless steel

Camping ax

Paper, pencil, needles, and thread

Water filters

Plenty of bug repellant

A wrench to turn off the gas and water

Boric acid

  • Boric acid kills fungus, tans hides, acts as an antiseptic or insecticide, and stops fires
  • Make a bomb with boric acid and aluminum foil in a bottle to clear ice, trigger potential avalanches or scare off wild animals
    1. Tear off about 20 strips of foil and ball them up
    2. Insert foil balls into the bottle, then pour in up to 5 oz of boric acid
    3. Cap off the bottle with a firm airtight cap
    4. Throw the bottle and wait 5-10 minutes, DO NOT check it if it doesn’t go off
  • Keep a clean plunger and bucket to use as a washing machine

Consider investing in bulkier essentials

Backup gas generator with extra fuel

Solar cells

A small fire extinguisher

  • Make liquor bottle fire extinguishers
    1. Dissolve a pound of salt and half a pound of sal-ammoniac in two quarts water
    2. Bottle about a quart of the mixture in each liquor bottle
    3. Throw them when you need them onto a fire
  • Baking soda will kill any fire by throwing directly onto the flames

A tent large enough for your family

A reliable firearm

  • A shotgun with shells and gunpowder
  • A rifle or handgun with extra ammunition

Hand-crank or secondary backup power source

Ax or machete to clear trees and bushes

Fishing pole or fishing net

Cookware for boiling water and cooking

Hand-powered or belt-operated grain grinder

Get some communication and navigation tools

Battery-operated radio with extra batteries or a crank radio

Emergency whistle

Satellite internet card for a laptop computer


Watch set to Meridian time

Walkie Talkies with extra batteries or solar charger

Keep your important documents together in a waterproof container

If you need a simple way to keep dry and uncreased papers, place a piece of cardboard in a zipper-sealed bag

Keep all your documents together

  • Will, insurance policies, contract deeds, stocks, and bonds
  • Passports, social security cards, and immunization records
  • Bank account numbers
  • Credit card account numbers and companies
  • Inventory of valuable household goods
  • Important telephone numbers
  • Family records (birth, marriage, and death certificates)
  • Backup hard drive and CDs of essential files
  • Emergency communication plan
  • Emergency contacts
  • Survival handbooks
    • General survival books
    • How to forage and edible wild plants
    • Gardening tricks
  • Store a week’s worth of currency in small denominations of cash and traveler’s checks in case the banks close

Layer everything the correct way

  1. Place anything at the bottom that can withstand weight like copies of documents, flashlight, radio, batteries, can opener, shoes, glasses, medications, and snacks
  2. Add blankets and pillows on top
  3. Place anything that needs to be cycled out like canned milk, food, and water
  4. Place the first aid kit on top

Make waterproof leather and shoes

  • Smear petroleum jelly into all the seams of the leather, then bake at 300 degrees for an hour
  • Rub a beeswax lubricating compound over any shoes and blow dry for 5-10 minutes

Stock robust first aid kits in backpacks with clean supplies


  • Assorted sizes of sterile adhesive bandages
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Assorted sizes of sterile gauze pads
  • Assorted fabric bandages and adhesive plastic bandages
  • Various roller bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • First aid tape roll
  • Instant cold compresses

Sterilizing agents

  • Cleansing agent or soap
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Antiseptic cleaning wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
  • Triple antibiotic ointment

Non-prescription drugs

  • Pain relievers like chewable aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen
  • Anti-diarrhea medicines
  • Antacids
  • Syrup of ipecac or activated charcoal (to induce vomiting)
  • Laxatives
  • Hydrocortisone cream (to reduce swelling)


  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Several pairs of latex gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades or depressors
  • Medicine dropper
  • Latex-free CPR one-way valve face shield

Other items

  • Tissue papers
  • Dust masks
  • Sunscreen
  • Body lubricant like petroleum jelly
  • First aid handbook
  • Mylar emergency blanket

Keep emergency supplies in each of your automobiles

Store some food

  • At least six bottles of water, cycled out every four months
  • At least six packs of beef jerky and a box of granola bars
  • Some hard candy

Keep extreme weather gear

  • Thick blankets
  • Hand warmers
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Ski hat
  • Bandana
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen

Keep maps, a Thomas guide, and a compass for navigation

Store a simple first aid kit with bandages, triple antibiotic ointment, decongestant, and painkillers

Keep a few tools for simple maintenance tasks

  • Screwdrivers
  • Channel-locks
  • Crescent wrench
  • Heavy flashlight
  • Multi-tool

Keep signaling tools

  • Whistle
  • Telescoping magnet
  • Road flares
  • Reflectors

Keep extra maintenance supplies

  • Extra water and coolant
  • At least one to three quarts of oil and a funnel
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Jumper cables or a car starter
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Extra cell phone charger

Keep miscellaneous multi-use supplies

  • Zip ties
  • Trash bags
  • Pen, pencil, and paper
  • Safety pins and paperclips

Don’t panic when disaster strikes

Have escape and disaster plans prepared

  • Every disaster is uniquely different
  • Not all regions have the same hazards, so only prepare for what could reasonably occur
  • Have Bug Out Bags ready for any emergency and provide multiple meeting points to everyone in your family

If you anticipate a tornado or hurricane, board up all your windows and doors to keep high winds and water from destroying everything

Focus all of your energy on your next immediate action

Stay in condition yellow

  • Condition green is at peace, while condition red is full-on panic
  • Condition yellow is “relaxed alert”

Increase your odds of surviving disasters

Your neighbors are invaluable in a crisis

  • A disaster can often cut off any connection with response teams or resources
  • Connect with everyone who lives around you to increase the chances of forming a crisis team

Take immediate action if the power goes out

  • Turn off all electronic devices to keep them prepared for when you need them
  • Keep the fridge cool by filling the freezer with containers filled with water
  • Check if land phone lines are still active

Don’t drink your tap water since the crisis may contaminate it

  • If you foresee a disaster coming, fill all your sinks and bathtub
    • You can boil tub and sink water for drinking in a major emergency
    • You can use water from the back of your toilet, but toilet bowl water is highly contaminated
  • Immediately turn off the water and sewage lines
  • Store water in your pipes after turning off the water by closing all water valves in the house
  • Your water heater holds plenty of clean water
    1. Ensure you’ve turned off all electricity and gas
    2. Open the drain at the bottom of the tank
    3. Turn the water intake valve in the tank
    4. Turn on the hot water faucet

Memorize the approximate shelf lives of food to avoid getting a disease from eating spoiled food

Most bugs are a great source of protein, and most flying insects are perfectly healthy to eat

Make a portable cooler

  1. Put a smaller pot inside a bigger pot
  2. Fill the space in between with wet sand
  3. Cover the top with a damp cloth

In cold weather

  • Gain traction on a snowbound vehicle with cat litter, sand or the car’s floor mats
  • In icy weather, start any vehicles you intend to run at least once every seven hours to keep away frost from the engine
  • Melt snow before eating to hydrate yourself since snow lowers your core body temperature dramatically

Learn how to prepare fire

Fire provides heat for shelter, cooking for food, a signal, and a means of sterilization

A. Prepare the fuel

  • Every flammable object has a unique temperature the material lights on fire (flash point)
  • Low flash point objects burn rapidly while high flash point objects burn for a long time
  • Generally, you want enough low flash point kindling to start a higher flash point object, then enough to keep the fire going overnight

B. Prepare the kindling

  • Make the kindling into a “nest” to start the fire at the center of it
  • You can improvise a variety of kindling
    • Doritos or potato chips
    • Dryer lint
    • WD-40 fluid
    • Most aerosol products
    • Twisted bits of paper
  • You can create more advanced firestarters
    • Stuff empty toilet paper rolls with dryer lint
    • Place pieces of charcoal in a cardboard egg carton
    • Dip cotton swabs in wax

C. Create an ignition source

  • Your ignition can come from a spark, reflected light or focused heat
  • Focus light on a point with a magnifying glass or aluminum foil
  • Chip a clear piece of ice into a rough sphere, smooth it with gloved hands, then use it as a lens
  • Rub chocolate into the bottom of a soda can until it shines with a cloth
  • Focus light with aluminum foil
  • Focus sunlight by placing a drop of water on the inside of a glasses lens
  • Connect battery terminals to create a spark
  • Smash flint rocks together to make a spark

If you can, keep matches available

  • Make candles waterproof by dipping them in hot candle wax
  • Keep matches dry
    • Slip them inside a flashlight
    • Wrap them in aluminum foil
    • Attach sandpaper on top of a small plastic container and put matches inside it
  • Slice a match in half carefully to make two of them
  • To light a match in the wind, cut thin shavings toward the match head before lighting

Improvise candles and lanterns

  • Use the inside of a lemon
  • You can burn crayons with the paper still on them for up to half an hour
  • Soak an orange in olive oil for three minutes, then use its stem as a wick
  • Make an oil candle
    1. Fill a travel container with any oil
    2. Stick a rope or cloth in the center of the container
    3. Seal it with wax, an upside down wrench socket or another non-flammable item
  • Stab a thin rope through a can of shortening
Next: Survival 201: Preparedness For Government Over-Reach