Survival: Preparing for Disasters

It’s really not crazy to prepare for disasters. In fact most of us live in a reality somewhere between those who are completely unprepared and survivalists who choose to live in remote locations with stockpiles of supplies. No matter what your personal prediction of the future is, preparing for disasters is easy, low-cost, and perfectly sane.

Below is the result of a little research I’ve done on preparing for disasters. I found most of this information on government websites,, and survivalist websites. Even though I don’t personally agree with many of the predictions survivalists believe I do admire the effort that has gone into their extreme efforts to prepare for disaster. You could also think of survivalists as professionals in disaster preparedness. The information they provide demonstrates one extreme of the spectrum and the best information carefully gleaned. The government websites served as a minimum baseline. Wikipedia was useful for definitions and relatively unbiased information. At the bottom of the page are some of the best websites I found.

Basic Disaster Preparing

  1. Learn as much as you can. What you know can save your life. This can be as simple as first aid skills and how to avoid hypothermia and dehydration.
  2. Improve your personal health and physical fitness. The healthier you are the more likely you are to meet any physical and mental challenge.
  3. Prepare a disaster plan with family and friends. Some people have trouble separating paranoia from preparing for disasters so approach family and friends with the idea of a simple plan. Try to avoid using fear as a motivator and absolutely avoid conspiracy theories. Crazy talk turns many people off so if you believe this stuff keep it to yourself. Focus on what’s important; having a plan and keeping family and friends safe.
  4. Prepare a bug-out bag. Many disasters require relocation so before storing food and water at home prepare a backpack with some essentials for at least 3 days of survival on foot. Prepare a pack for each family member.
  5. Prepare modes of transportation. Your feet (boots) are your first mode of transportation. A bicycle might be another option and a vehicle is ideal. People who’ve been through disasters like Katrina and have experienced the clogged highways also consider motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. In an evacuation you’ll never know what will be needed so be sure to think through what kind of back-up transportation you’ll want available.
  6. Store food & water at home. The U.S. Government suggests storing 3 days of food and water at home. Survivalists suggest having up to 3 years of food. The right amount is clearly somewhere in between 3 days and 3 years. I’m going to suggest a 3 week supply of non-perishable food and water for each family member simply because if there was a disaster it would disrupt the delivery of food to your community. I’ll also suggest that your food is stored in portable containers like 5 gallon buckets or jugs.
  7. Reduce personal debt and increase savings to reduce economic burden. This is not easy but any step in the right direction can lessen your dependency on employment and reduce the risk of falling into financial hardship brought on suddenly by disaster.

Extreme Disaster Preparing

  1. Learn how to backpack. Besides being a fun sport backpacking actually teaches how to survive with stuff you carry on your back. It’s also much easier to backpack since you have ample time to prepare and plan but the self reliance you’ll learn will come in handy if you’re ever put into a difficult situation.
  2. Learn to cook meals from scratch. When you know how to bake bread from the raw ingredients your options widen. Knowing how to cook good food from a limited selection of dry goods can keep you fed longer and cheaper.
  3. Learn to fish. Protein is often especially hard to come by in an emergency situation. Learning to fish can not only be fun and relaxing it can be a skill you can fall back on during hard times.
  4. Learn to hunt. Hunting requires a few additional skills like butchering and curing the meat. Some find hunting fun; others would prefer a vegetarian diet. No matter what your preference learning this skill give you an alternative source of food.
  5. Learn self-defense techniques. In an extremely difficult situation social order can come unraveled. Knowing how to protect yourself from people who have lost control of themselves can save your life. There are many ways of looking at this issue all the way from obtaining weapons to learning martial arts. Do what fits best but please try to avoid becoming one of those people who looses control, especially if you choose to buy guns.
  6. Get a HAM radio license and basic equipment. Staying connected with the rest of the world is essential. Simply being able to listen to a radio is a good step but being able to have two-way communication is even better. On the market today there are many reasonably priced portable multi-band two-way radios. These require a license to operate but the licensing is not prohibitively difficult. It can be a fun hobby too and in the event of a disaster would become rare and extremely valuable skill. These radios are also very handy when cellular phone systems become overloaded or unavailable because of their incredible range and channel flexibility.
  7. Buy a 4×4 truck that can carry your family. In an emergency evacuation the ability to get away fast is very important. Being able to go off road, up curbs, through snow, and across lawns may also be useful. 4×4 vehicles are fairly common place and even though you’ll rarely use it, when you need it, you’ll tend to really need it.
  8. Buy a truck bed camper or camping trailer. Evacuations tend to also mean you’re going to be stuck away from home for a while. It seems like almost every summer in California there’s a fire that requires residents to evacuate for up to a week at a time. Having you’re own mobile place to stay can be a real treat compared to a cot in a make-shift shelter at the local high school gym.
  9. Buy remote rural land. Besides being an investment and vacation spot remote land can give you a place to go when there is trouble. There are many factors that make one piece of property better than another, like water, power, and permitted uses like camping. Do your due diligence before buying land.
  10. Build a remote cabin. Once you’ve bought the land you’ll probably want to build a little house or cabin. For short stays many people are happy camping but for longer stays and its always nice to live indoors.