Common Sense Preparation, by D.A.

Over the years, I have become frustrated with my tribe’s lack of preparation progress. We need common sense preparation.

After much reading on the subject, I realized there was no way our budget would support hard-core disaster prepping. This caused me to review our current state of readiness for the most likely threats we would face. The result of this review was that we were not making the best use of the resources we already had in place. In fact, until this review, we were unaware of resources already in place for which no money was spent to acquire. The purpose of this article is to open your minds to see resources already in place that you had no idea were already there… freebies!

Basic Survival Kit

We all know the shopping list for what is needed in order to shelter in place for a few weeks. If you live in the hurricane belt, you probably already have a stocked pantry and a generator to keep you going for a week or so in the event of a natural disaster.

Back in 1989, we were living in Charleston, SC, when hurricane Hugo hit. We were totally unprepared. Everyone in the neighborhood pooled their resources and ate like kings for three days until all the refrigerated food was used up. From that point until power restoration, it was slim pickings in the kitchen. We all helped each other with emergency repairs and recovery. In the terrible heat and humidity of coastal South Carolina, we struggled with the lack of electricity and potable water for weeks.

First Lesson

Our first lesson was that neighbors make good fences. This is a reversal of the old saying “Fences make good neighbors.”

We had good relationships with our neighbors prior to the storm. In the South, we tend to treat our neighbors like extended family. In other parts of the country, this may not be the case. Get to know your neighbors. They can be resource multipliers. Know what communal resources are available prior to TSHTF.

I had an antique two-man saw, which was in high demand after the storm. Few of us had chainsaws, and the available fuel quickly ran out for those who had them. Prior to the storm, I considered the saw to be a decoration in my shop, not a useful tool. The point is, I had a valuable resource already in place.

Second Lesson

The second lesson was to evaluate the resources already on hand. Who would have thought an antique saw would become treasure in the recovery period? Generators and fuel were scarce.

Meet with your neighbors to determine what is available and what glaring gaps need to be addressed. One of the quirks of the storm was that even though we had no electricity for an extended period, we had water. The water we had was not suitable for drinking, but it flowed with the turn of a spigot. We also had natural gas.

We were able to use the natural gas to boil our water, so we never ran out of drinking water. our family is blessed with a gas range and gas water heater, so our kitchen and bath were used by our neighbors for cooking and hot showers during the extended power outage.

Those who had generators quickly ran out of fuel, because the local gas stations remained closed due to the lack of power. We became experts at syphoning fuel from our cars. In my current home, we have a boat in the garage that I keep topped off with fuel. So, in the boat, there are always 25 gallons of stabilized fuel on hand in its tank. This fuel can be used to run our generator if gas stations are closed. This is a prep that was already in place, so no additional funds were needed to initiate and maintain it.

The Third Lesson, Your Battlefield

The third lesson is know the battlefield. The one advantage a homeowner possesses is an intimate knowledge of the immediate terrain surrounding his home in a situation where TSHTF.

Survey the property and look for areas that can provide natural cover and concealment. As kids, we used to build underground forts that were pretty elaborate. Some were even equipped with fireplaces with their own concealed chimneys. We built camouflaged entry hatches, which made the fort almost undetectable unless you actually stepped on it.

As we progressed with our hobby, the bunkers became larger and even had multiple rooms connected by tunnels. They even had breathing pipes that came to the surface some distance away from the bunker to provide breathing air in the event we had to stay underground for a long time with the hatch closed. All of these were built with materials we scrounged in the local area. We spent no money on them, because we had no money to spend.

A Bunker

In a SHTF scenario, a bunker such as this could serve as a storm shelter, hide-out, or spider hole from which to conduct an ambush, if needed. If your house is overrun by the bad guys, it would be nice to be able to conduct a strategic retreat to a bunker such as this from which you could conduct your own guerilla war against the bad guys. Having a food, water, and ammo cache in the bunker would buy time. The total outlay of prepping funds is merely- $0.

Search for ditches, storm drain culverts, and other such infrastructure that could be used for shelter, assault, or defense. In our last home, we had a concrete storm drain culvert near our house that could be reached in less than 20 seconds in the event we needed a tornado shelter. Once in the storm drain system, we could travel underground in a concrete pipe to a discharge almost 400 meters away. What a great way to put some distance between you and the bad guys.

It takes courage to enter the storm drain system, but it is a resource for when TSHTF. Identify such opportunities before the need arises. Think about stashing a red-lensed flashlight in a cache near the entrance, in case you didn’t have time to grab your go-bag prior to bugging out.

Fourth Lesson

Regarding this fourth lesson, think outside the box. Think of unconventional uses for things that are already in place, such as the storm drain. Think of it as converting your tax dollars into your own personal underground storm shelter, escape, and evasion passage. Study how to use the terrain to your advantage. Doing this will allow a better understanding of how bad guys can use your battlefield resources against you. Do not assume the bad guys are stupid. A hungry human animal is truly the most dangerous game out there.

Your Home

Your home is your most familiar space, and with a little bit of effort it can be turned into a nightmare for an invader with minimal expense. Nightlights and reflective surfaces can work for you or against you, based on how you plan for the defense of your home. The idea is to create a series of “light traps” that will cause the bad guys to be slightly lit while you retain the tactical advantage of remaining in the dark.

This will allow for a better sight picture with your weapon of choice and will eliminate the use of a laser site or flashlight, which could reveal your position to the bad guy. A picture hanging on the wall at a hallway intersection can serve as a reflective surface and can reflect the image of a bad guy waiting to ambush you as you round the corner. This is not a good application for a mirror as it would be too easy for the bad guy to use to his own advantage.

Trip-Lines, An Early Warning System

A spool of fishing line can be one of the least expensive prepping investments out there. Set up a series of trip-lines by putting soda cans on the trip-line and dropping a few pebbles in each can. This will serve as an early warning system and will help to let you know where in the house the bad guys are, based on the sound of the “alarms” being triggered.

Have a family plan in place for different situations. Our last residence had two separate stairways leading to the second floor. This made it difficult for one person to defend the second floor. As a result, our defense plan had my wife retreating to my child’s bedroom armed with a shotgun. I remained in a position where I could cover the exits of both stairs. My wife knew I would not enter her “Alamo” without first announcing myself, so any unannounced person entering the room did so at great risk. These plans required no cash outlay and are an essential part of any home defense.

Fifth Lesson, Make a Plan

Discuss with your family what needs to happen in the event of an intruder. Be sure you are able to access your weapons totally in the dark by feel. Keep a mobile phone near your bedside, so you are able to call for help. Have a plan of action for a house fire and make certain your kids know what to do. If your family plan involves bugging out to your remote bunker, make sure everyone knows to rendezvous there.

Your Nutrition

Stashing food is expensive. Let’s face it, most of us are pretty slack when it comes to setting aside long-term food reserves. The result of this is we are likely to not have enough calories stashed to allow more than a couple of weeks of sheltering in place, which leads us to Lesson #6.

The Sixth Lesson, Meat is Meat, But Water is Life

Do you have a large population of squirrels nearby? Perhaps there is a nearby fishing hole you could fish? Think about what you could do to stretch your stored calories. Make sure to have a decent air rifle on hand for squirrel hunting, as you may not want to announce your presence with a .22 rifle.

Do you have a way to resupply your water? Running out of water will get you in trouble much faster than running out of food. If you don’t have a source nearby, make certain to have materials on hand to engineer a catchment system or solar still. These materials are very inexpensive, but they will be worth their weight in gold when TSHTF.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have some fresh ideas about how to be more prepared for difficult times without using a lot of cash. Make sure to have a plan in place to take advantage of your surroundings, and think about how to partner with your neighbors in order to multiply your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. There will be things going on over which you will have no control, but with a creative plan you will be able to adapt to whatever comes your way.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. I was a Haz Mar Tech in my former life. Just a word of caution. Entering a storm drain is considered entering a confined space. There are a great many dangers when doing so. The greatest of which would be air quality, or lack therof. We would never enter without proper air monitoring. It may look good but depending on how much O2 is available makes the difference between life and death. Please proceed with utmost caution. I realize this situation we are talking about is SHTF, but be warned.

  2. While I’m all for options, relying on local squirrel or bream to keep a family fed is a gamble at best.
    It’s much, much easier to store ahead of time and is not prohibitively expensive. It costs right at $30 to buy enough rice (20lbs), pinto beans (10lbs) and lentils(4lbs) to provide enough food for one person for one month(including the 5 gallon bucket and mylar bag to store it in).
    So, 3 months of food for a family of 4 will cost you $360. That is a steal-of-a-deal when the alternative is scrounging for squirrel and catfish.

  3. Relying on local game or fishing resources is folly at best and at the worst it could sentence your family to doom. Not only will all of your neighbors and the rest of the local populace have the same idea but so will any of the “Golden Horde” coming to or through your area unless you are fairly remote. Game large and small will be hunted to near extenction levels and ponds and streams will Bemba fished out short order Sam families try to feed their families.

    It costs almost nothing to buy a little at a time. Can’t afford this? Look at what you can give up. How may “double disgustings” from star yucks do you have a week? Give thst up and you. Can easily feed one person for a month or a family of 4 for a week with the basics to stay alive.

    1. While you and Jay raise valid points, I believe the author was suggesting hunting and fishing as supplentary strategies to stored food, not as a replacement. Storage, hunting/fishing/foraging, and subsistence level agriculture should be complimentary tactics, not competing ones.

  4. Ok Did anyone else see this…
    After much reading on the subject, I realized there was no way our budget would support hard-core disaster prepping.
    In my current home, we have a boat in the garage that I keep topped off with fuel.
    Does this not strike anyone else as odd…We have enough money in our budget for recreational items but not enough for our survival…
    This is why I am always skeptical when people say we are just to poor to prep all the while smoking their cigarettes and drinking their beer and diet sodas…Then complaining that you need to take care of them since it says to give to the poor…Does anyone else at all see the irony…Sad That…

    1. Lineman, also noticed that,but what if you lived in flood prone area? A old rugged(aluminium or fiberglass) rowboat,canoe or jonboat can be had for free or close to it and be considered necessary. We don’t have enough information but a good budget would likely help.

  5. The last addition to our BO bags probably should have been our first: LifeStraws

    Each LifeStraw ($14.75 Amazon) can convert up to 4,000 liters (1,056 gallons) of contaminated water into safe drinking water.

    1. Relying on Lifestraws to filter your water is a good way to get beaver fever; I know from experience. They clog after one of two uses and simply don’t work after that.

  6. Every situation is different, storm drains, bunkers, tornado shelters, etc are good, but what happens if you have a flood? No plan lasts beyond the first engagement. While physical assets are nice, mindset and adaptability are the most important things. Wild fires, floods, the flu, can overwhelm any preps you may have made.

  7. There are always different way to react to events small incidents or major ones. I’m thankful to all my brothers and sisters i have yet to meet who are prepping and supporting each other by reading this blog, giving up the latte, trading supplies and information. Keep our heads held high.

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