You’ve heard it before, “Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” That principle can be, and should be, applied to every facet of your survival preparations. It applies to the possession of material items such as food, weapons and first aid. It applies to your skills such as how you find your food, use your weapons and administer first aid. It applies to your physical abilities such as endurance, speed and agility. It applies to your state of mind such as courage, honor and ingenuity. And, of course, it applies to your actions such as being pro-active, studying and employing measures to safeguard you and your loved ones.
One could argue that being fully prepared requires quite an investment. You can spend thousands and thousands of dollars on all the equipment and supplies needed to insure that your existence continues, for as long as feasible, relatively just as comfortably in a social collapse, military attack, natural disaster or grid-down situation as it does today (depending, of course, on your geographical location). The list of necessary items goes on and on. What is necessary? Some might argue that aside from having a cave and a club, nothing else is needed. After all, man did survive that way for quite a long time, right? Sure, when wild food was plentiful, the earth’s waters were cleaner, their adversaries also had only clubs and they wiped their asses with, well, who knows. Others might argue you need many year’s worth of everything you use today and a back-up for every device that could break. And consider all the great gadgets and products out there to help make every single facet of survival that much easier. You could fill a warehouse with things you “need” but do you already have some of them without knowing it?
Certainly not everyone has the means of acquiring everything they want or even what they would need. Many people, even if they wanted to, can’t even afford to stock up on food. If you fall into the category most of us find ourselves in, be determined but not dismayed if your preparedness budget is chronicled into the 22nd Century. After all, primitive man survived and pioneers did pretty well with just a wagon full of supplies. They all learned to forage, adapt and invent. Although this is modern day with many technical differences and new challenges for one wanting to survive and/or live off the land, there are just as many advantages.
I remember when I was working as a carpenter. When I wanted to heat up part of my lunch, something you’d put in a microwave or oven, and the sun was shining, I’d go get our black wheelbarrow with the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) tub, put my lunch in it, turn it under the sun, and set a single-pane window or large piece of glass over the top. It would heat up to 200 degrees inside the wheelbarrow in minutes and then usually hovered around 250. It made a great oven and could also be adapted as a dehydrator. Today they sell solar ovens constructed with the same materials. But you don’t necessarily have to buy one to have one. Again, if you can forage, adapt, and invent, you can increase the longevity of your survival.
When it comes to preparedness, implement intelligent priorities and, God-forbid, if you find yourself ducking from Schumer that hit, embrace your challenges and learn to improvise. We dispose of a wealth of materials in ordinary garbage. Glass containers laid flat and stacked into a south-facing mud or adobe mortared wall could make for great passive-solar heat in a cabin. Metal cans can be flared at one end and then stacked together to build a flue pipe. Add the flue pipe to a steel barrel and you’ve got a wood stove. Two large garbage bags, one inside the other, stuffed between with balls of old newspapers can make a sleeping bag for your child. Plastics can be used to collect rain water. Here’s a more technical idea I’ve done successfully for heating a tent; long scrap metals such as metal studs or wire rope, laid horizontally and continuous, can be buried on one end in a shallow bed while left exposed on the other end. If the exposed end is applied a heat source such as from a Dakota fire, the other end will radiate heat in the same manner as hydronic or electric in-floor heating. You can pitch a tent over the shallow bed and keep warm in the middle of winter without worry of asphyxiation. The depth of burial is dependant upon the materials used and their spacing for the transfer of heat. I laid five 10′ long, 20-gauge 4″ metal studs 10″ on center, buried 3″ under the dirt. If you like warm toes, keep them on the end closer to the fire. And it takes a few hours to heat the ground, much like pitching a tent over buried coals and rocks from a campfire.
Next example, crime is growing. You are worried that someone might break into your root cellar in the middle of the night and steal all the cans of yams and tuna you just put down there. You never did purchase that security system or the remote motion sensors you’ve always wanted. But you’ve got a pile of pop cans and some fishing line. You could set up a trip wire around the perimeter. As a minimum you’d want to lay out a triangle with one pop can set upright and weighted with a rock at each corner. Drop a couple of pebbles or small bells from the Christmas-ornaments box into each can. Tie the fishing line to the pop-top of each can at each corner of the perimeter and you have an alarm system. Even better, you could use a small pulley at each corner, tied to a stake, tree or bush. Still attach the cans somewhere on the trip line, preferably in a concealed location. Attach one end, the dead end, of the line to something fixed or solid. Attach the other end to an anchored trigger-switch on a batter-powered flood lamp. Then if someone trips the line, you’ll get clamor and illumination. Or you could build a completely concealed and remote alarm by utilizing a pressure plate buried flush with the ground surface. I’ve done this by using two boards, a hinge, two copper pennies, a spring, a loop system of low-voltage 12 gauge wire, and a 9V battery all tied into a doorbell. I will spare you the electrical details in order to keep this brief. If you really wanted to, you can create your own security system.
The point I am trying to make is the importance of your resources and the value of ingenuity. Mankind is intelligent enough to put human beings on the moon and bring them back again (or at least smart enough at the time to get the rest of the world to believe it). At the least, if we are smart enough to build a space station, we can certainly figure out how to adapt in a survival situation to obtain water, food, good hygiene, medical care, shelter, heat and security. Virtually every item around you can be adapted for multiple purposes. So if you’re on a tight budget, I’d start out with the necessities like dried or canned goods, garden seeds, matches and ferrocerium fire starters, and other items where the benefits greatly outweigh the cost, like first aid supplies. And don’t forget items like 100% stearine candles and soap. Sure you can use animal fat to make candles and soap but it is very time consuming and yet cheap to purchase. In a survival situation, your time would be extremely valuable. So stock up on the inexpensive stuff and save the big purchases for items like firearms.
My final mention goes to references. As you know, right now you can search the internet and easily learn about almost anything you want. Search for information that would be valuable if times get tough and print it out. Seal and store your references. I label mine and put them in binders. For example I recently embarked in a short geology lesson in order to be able to identify flintstone in my area. I was guessing that flint could make a reasonable barter item. I found that high carbon steel such as an automobile spring and quartz or jasper are a great substitute for common flint and steel. And that if using flint and steel (not to be confused with ferrocerium igniters) to start a fire it is extremely beneficial to use charcloth. I printed out information on how to make charcloth and put it in my files. Then I printed out references to help me build a hydroelectric generator from items I have around the house. Even if you don’t have time to read it now or work with it now, get your references printed out while they are readily available. If the grid went down tomorrow, think of all the information lost that was at your fingertips. My comfort level and confidence in my own preparedness increases every time I add references to my library, which I try to do several times a week. Knowledge increases potential ingenuity exponentially. The more you learn the more you can learn, adapt, invent, and be better able to help yourself and those around you and survive on a poor man’s budget. Chance favors those who prepare.