2024 Survival & Preparedness List

It’s always a good idea to look over our survival plans, making sure that what we’re doing, is what we really should be doing. Sometimes, the things we prepare for are no longer a threat. Other times, new techniques, supplies or gear become available, providing better options than what we had before. In any case, review will help us to remember what we have and how we are planning on using it in the event of a disaster.

Home Survival

Most of us will be better off bugging in, in the case of an emergency, rather than bugging out. Of course, there are exceptions to that. If the area you’re living in is flooding or a wildfire is heading for your home, then you’re better off getting out of there, rather than taking your chances that Mother Nature will be kind to you.

We have to assume that any disaster is going to take out our electrical power. Which also means it will take out everything that depends on that electrical power. While the local water purification plant may have diesel generators for backup, their supply of diesel fuel is limited. So, while the water may keep flowing for a couple of days, I wouldn’t count on it beyond that.

Based on that, we need to be prepared to meet all of our basic survival needs ourselves, using the equipment and supplies that we’ve stockpiled. Of course, that means more than just building a stockpile; it means learning what to do with the things that we’ve stockpiled, so that we’ll be able to make the most of them and survive.

One of the problems we face, when it comes to figuring just what we need to have, is that none of us know just what sort of a disaster we’re going to face. We might be able to make some educated guesses, based on what part of the country we live in; but that’s about it.

Without knowing what sort of disaster, we are going to face, we have no real way of knowing just how long supplies and services will be out. The aftermath of a disaster that lasts mere minutes can last for months. If we look at past disasters, we can see that it typically takes from four to six weeks for services to be fully restored and the supply chain to be up and functioning again. Therefore, we need to be ready to make it on our own for at least six weeks; and that’s just for “normal disasters,” not a TEOTWAWKI event.

  • Home Heating– You need some means of heating at least part of your home; probably wood, kerosene or propane. Assume the coldest part of the year; how much fuel will you need, to make it through six weeks during that time?
  • Firestarter – You’re going to need something reliable to start the heating fire with. I’m a firm believer in applying the KISS principle here, using the simplest and most effective fire starters possible, such as quality butane lighters (not the disposable ones; but rather a stormproof lighter) and storm or at least wind-proof matches.
  • Blankets or Sleeping Bags – It will probably be necessary to “camp out” in the living room or family room of your home; whichever part you are able to heat. Make sure that you have plenty to cover up with at night, to keep your family warm.
  • Warm Coats – This one may seem a bit too obvious, but most of the coats that people buy, especially girls, are for fashion, rather than warmth.
  • Purified Water – Count on needing two gallons of purified water, per person, per day. That’s just for drinking, cooking and the bare minimum of personal hygiene.
  • Water Purifier – Hopefully you’ll be able to resupply with water from either rainwater capture or a nearby watercourse. That water will need to be purified. But you’ll also need that water purifier when they turn the water back on and issue a “water boil notice,” meaning that the tap water isn’t safe to drink.
  • Bucket Toilet & Plastic Bags – Without the city water working, you’re not going to be able to flush the toilet. The easiest alternative is to use a 5-gallon bucket toilet, capturing the waste in plastic bags for disposal later.
  • First-aid (Trauma) Kit –There’s always an increased chance of illness and injury during any disaster and the aftermath. We’re not talking about the kind of injuries that can be dealt with using an adhesive bandage either. Medical services will be overrun, so you need to be ready to deal with serious injuries there at home, before transporting the patient to the hospital.
  • Medicines –If anyone in the family has a chronic condition, requiring medication, be sure to have at least a month’s worth of all medicines on hand. In addition to that, you want to have a good selection of the common over-the-counter medicines, to deal with colds, flu, diarrhea and other problems. If you can, stock some antibiotics; but learn what the antibiotics you have are good for. Not all antibiotics can be used for all sicknesses.
  • Pandemic Supplies – The dangers of COVID have diminished significantly. The virus has mutated to less dangerous forms, like viruses tend to do. While there are still people getting COVID, the medical community has learned how to treat patients with the disease. Nevertheless, there’s always the possibility of another pandemic coming along. We need to have the appropriate supplies to protect ourselves and our families, when that happens.
  • Toilet Paper & Cleaning Supplies –We all saw what happened to the grocery stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. The great toilet paper shortage of 2020 will go down in history. That gave us a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen after any future disaster.
  • Food –Speaking of the grocery stores, make sure you have at least a six-week supply of non-perishable food; better to have two to three months’ worth. People were digging in trash dumpsters for food, six weeks after both Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. Don’t think it won’t happen again.
  • A Means to Cook –With the power out, you won’t be able to cook like normal. Rather, you’re either going to have to cook over your wood-burning stove or on the barbecue grille. Both work well; just be sure to have enough fuel for them. It’s also a good idea to have some cast-iron cookware, so it won’t be ruined by using it on the fire.
  • Disposable Plates, Cups & Utensils –With limited water, you don’t want to have to waste the little you have, washing dishes. Use disposable items that can be burned in your fire.
  • Lighting –While you’ll probably find yourself limiting most of your activities to the daylight hours, there will probably be some things you need to do at night. That means having light to work by, whether that is flashlights, oil-burning lamps or candles. Just remember, with any of these, you’ll need a lot, as you will probably go through them quickly.
  • Gasoline –Amongst the various supplies that will become scarce is gas for your car. Gasoline isn’t easy to store, as it has a limited shelf-life. You’ll need to use the gas you’re storing every few months, burning it in your car or lawnmower and replacing it. Even then, your ability to use your vehicle will be limited by the amount of gas you can store. So, you probably won’t be moving around much; but there may be times when you really need to.
  • Solar Charger –With the power out, communications of all types will be limited. Even so, to be able to use your phone or radio, you’re going to need to be able to recharge the battery. Buy a good one, as the low-cost ones don’t really do the job.
  • Home & Self Defense– You want to be ready to defend home and family. Criminals tend to take advantage of post-disaster times, whether for looting or home invasions. Most of those criminals will gladly turn tail and run, once they see that you’re ready and able to defend yourself and your home.

Don’t take this as being a complete list, with every detail mentioned in it. What I’ve tried to do here, is make sure that you have the basics that you’ll need, for surviving the aftermath of most disasters. In addition, take a look at your own family’s needs, including special needs for family members and any special needs that might be brought about by the area you live in or the types of disasters you are likely to experience.

When Bugging Out

For most people and in most circumstances, it is preferable to bug in, using your home as a survival shelter, rather than bug out. However, there are always exceptions. Flooding and wildfires are two situations which warrant bugging out and getting out of harm’s way. This requires having a plan and a destination to go to, should you be forced to bug out.

The basic tools for a bug out, are a plan, a bug out bag and a vehicle. You don’t have to have a fancy four-wheel-drive vehicle, all fitted out to be a survival rig. Whatever vehicle you have, which is big enough for your family and your survival gear, will do. Most of the time, there won’t be any time where it is necessary to go off-road, using that four-wheel drive.

On the other hand, the bug out plan and bug out bag are both essential. You have to have someplace you’re going to go and you have to have the basics you’ll need for survival, while you are traveling from your home to your ultimate destination. That’s what the bug out bag is for.

There are different points of view about bug out bags. Some, go for a more streamlined bag, with the idea that all it has to do is get them to their destination. Others, go for more survival gear, just in case. Considering that any bug out that any of us are likely to have to participate in won’t just include our family, but probably our city, I go for the more robust bug out bag, with more survival gear. I’d rather play it safe. Please note that I’m talking about a bug out bag here, not an INCH bag (I’m never coming back), where the person is planning on disappearing into the wilderness and spend the rest of their life there.

If you think about it, backpackers have been “bugging out” for over 100 years; and have developed a lot of the gear and methods needed for surviving in the wilderness for short periods of time. Much of their gear is ultralight, which is important when you think you’ll be carrying it on your back. If we were to take just what the typical backpacker takes with them for going on a five-day backpacking trip, we’d be set. Not only that, we’d probably be more comfortable, than we would be with most people’s ideas of bug out bags.

  • Backpack– You’ve got to have something to carry it all in. Forget the tactical bags, go for a backpacking one. It will be lighter and won’t scream the message that you’re prepared.
  • Backpacking Tent – Ultralight tent, for protection from the weather. This is much easier than the various forms of survival shelters that people talk about building.
  • Ultralight Tarp – To act as either a ground sheet or cover for your tent.
  • Sleeping Bag– A seasonally appropriate backpacking sleeping bag (ultralight).
  • Rain Poncho
  • A Few Changes of Clothes
  • Duct Tape– Always useful
  • Paracord – Just about as useful
  • Dehydrated Food – The more food you can carry, the better. I don’t know where the idea of 3-days of food came from, but I’d say a minimum of five days’ worth. Include some high-energy snacks as well.
  • Survival Fishing Kit– It might be nice to be able to augment your food with some fresh fish.
  • Ultralight Cooking Gear– Backpacking cooking gear isn’t fancy; but it is light.
  • Spices – You can do a lot to improve the taste of dried foods by adding your favorite spices. Any small plastic containers, like those for TicTacs, will work great, repurposed as spice containers.
  • Coffee – If you’re a coffee drinker, be sure to bring some along; you’ll be glad you did.
  • Metal Water Bottles – How many water bottles and how big they are will depend largely on what part of the country you are in. You’ll want to carry at least enough water to meet your drinking needs for a day and plan your bug out route with the idea of replenishing water every day. Metal water bottles can be put in the fire to purify water, if needed.
  • Water Purifier – Some sort of portable water purifier, which will allow you to refill your water bottles.
  • Fire Starters – As I mentioned above, I believe strongly in applying the KISS principle to fire starting. My favorite is a stormproof lighter and my second favorite is weatherproof matches. Anything else can be considered backup to those.
  • Fire Accelerant – People call these fire starters as well; but the idea is something that will help a fire start, such as gasoline, when you don’t have dry fuel to use. The ones people make out of cotton balls and petroleum jelly are an excellent choice, and inexpensive to make.
  • Personal Hygiene Kit – Cleanliness is important for maintaining health. Be sure to include insect repellant and hand sanitizer.
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sewing Kit – For those necessary repairs.
  • Sheathe Knife – The most basic survival tool.
  • Knife Sharpener
  • Folding Pruning Saw– The best survival saw for making shelters and cutting wood.
  • Camp Hatchet (with hammer back) – For splitting wood for the fire. The hammer back is useful for driving tent stakes.
  • Folding Shovel – For digging latrines.
  • Tactical Light – Don’t forget the spare batteries.
  • Solar Phone Charger
  • Pad and Pencil– Sometimes you’ve got to take notes on important things like directions.
  • Maps – Both road maps and topographical ones that cover your route.

Each member of your family will many of the same things, less the tools. One set of those should be sufficient for the family. However, depending on the age of family members, you might want to ensure that each has a good knife, a flashlight and a whistle to signal other members of the family, in case you get separated.

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