This step-by-step guide will help level up your preparedness to be ready for what is coming. The content has been chunked into bite-sized, actionable pieces so you can do something right now to be more prepared. These are your opportunities to stand up and move forward towards preparedness with each step.
We are starting with Urban Survival Skills so that you can “build your basecamp” and be ready for the most likely survival situations.
Many commercial medical kits are mostly just a box of Band-Aids when opened. There is nothing wrong with having one of these around the house as this is where most of us started out. However, the stuff in most of these inexpensive starter kits just cannot fix that many medical problems.
Now, no matter what we do, some medical problems just are not going to be fixable. People die from falling off of buildings every year and sometimes, even if that building was a hospital, it would not make a difference. So, as a good place to start, ask yourself what would you be comfortable dealing with? Some folks cannot stand the sight of blood and I hate the sweetly acrid smell of vomit. Our guide on Building A Better Personal Medical Kit is a starting point that targets the common needs of stopping bleeding, preventing infection, patching up sprains and strains, handling cold/flu complications, as well as fever, blisters, splinters and minor burns. Our goal was to see how far the bar could be moved with just a little forethought and planning.
With a little commitment to some training and more specialized equipment, additional issues become manageable. Learning the kinds of things that doctors take into consideration when picking the right antibiotic for a specific type of issue is the idea behind Survival Antibiotic Use which just adds another tool to your toolbox. Taking a course on advanced bleeding control or wilderness medicine will definitely move the bar down and increase what you can handle. Check out our Community Training Calendar to help find a class in your area.
Building A Better Personal Medical Kit – Specific recommendations for what to put in your First Aid Kit, as well as a printable guide to help with planning.
Survival Antibiotic Use – How to choose the right antibiotic in an emergency situation, as well as some practical alternatives.
There is a sliding scale with gear and practiced skills. For folks just starting out a fair amount of gear is needed to accomplish the same thing that someone with years of practice can do with what is in their pockets at the time. Everyone starts off as “the new guy”, so there is nothing wrong with being there. This is just a matter of honestly assessing your own skill set, gearing up for where you are at and then working to add new “tools to your toolbox”.
There are also advantages to building multiple “dialed in” kits instead of one all inclusive kit. It makes a lot of sense to keep jumper cables in your car, but much less sense to carry them on a backpacking trip into the woods. Think through the goals of a specific kit, then build to meet those goals. If I’m building a kit to keep in the bottom drawer of my desk at work to make sure I can get home, then it is going to start with comfortable shoes, fresh socks and bottled water.
Start by building your first basic kit today:
Build a Discreet Personal Survival Kit – Learn how to quickly create a basic, portable, and inexpensive survival kit that can be quietly carried almost everywhere.
There are more good water filters available now than ever before. They generally work by either pushing water through a microscopic “maze” that traps contaminants or by pushing it through a membrane with holes small enough to block molecules larger than water. They are most often powered by human effort or gravity. For a home unit, the Big Berkey is one of the most well-respected countertop models. For a portable pump-type unit, the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter is the newest version of the one I carry. If the need is a few budget minded units to stock multiple survival kits, the Sawyer MINIs are simple, but effective. It is absolutely possible to boil water or add chemicals in order to get rid of most waterborne problems, but filtration removes most of the chance for human error with just a little planning. Some chemicals such as chlorine and iodine can require temperature dependent adjustments or do not work well against specific organisms, while filters just work.
Water Storage for Emergencies – Although FEMA recommends one gallon per person per day, with a two week supply on hand, most Americans use between 100 and 200 gallons a day in non-emergencies, so water planning is critical.
When planning for meals during an emergency, we need to have a plan that involves cooking, eating and cleaning up after the meal. Keeping some extra paper plates and plasticware on hand can help make doing the dishes much easier for a few weeks with a minimal investment. This also helps reduce water needs. For cooking, check out the articles Choosing a Survival Stove and Cooking On The Grill to find out about a number of different options. As for the food itself, start buy doing some extra shopping to keep your pantry and freezer stocked. This is an easy way to get two weeks of meals on tap, which should be your first goal. For longer term emergencies, read up on Modern Survival Food Options To Stock Your Preparedness Pantry to see what choices are available. There is also taste test of different Freeze Dried Meal Options as some of the choices are actually pretty good while others just taste awful.
Modern Survival Food Options To Stock Your Preparedness Pantry – We break all the modern survival food options down into different categories, sorted by ease of preparation, and cover the use case for each one.
Choosing a Survival Stove – The seven main survival stove types, based on the fuel they use, and then take a look at examples that represent the “best of” each of those groups.
Cooking On The Grill – How to use a portable grill to cook during an emergency, including some easy recipes that you can pull from the pantry.
Freeze Dried Meal Options – What you need to know about freeze-dried meals to set up an emergency food supply for your family.
For most folks, trying to keep a cell phone running will be the basis of communications during an emergency. This is certainly a good start if there is a Battery Backup For Smart Phones or a plan to safely charge devices from a vehicle. Getting a short wave radio is the next step. If you want to go all in, study up for a week or two and pass the easy test that allows you to send messages to other people over amateur radio. You can study for free on the HamStudy.org website and even see every current test question and answer. A Baofeng UV-5R is the classic first radio and switching out the antenna with a Super Elastic Signal Stick should be your first upgrade.
Emergency File Backup – How to set up an emergency file backup plan with a two-layered approach, one copy of the data saved locally, and another copy of the most important files saved offsite.
Battery Backup For Smart Phones – What do you need to know about USB backup batteries and how do you keep one charged during a disaster.
Sanitation in Emergency Situations – Learn to create an easy to use emergency sanitation kit that can be stored around the house or transported by vehicle.
Ammo Buying Basics – What You Need To Know – Buying ammo can be confusing. In order to make this a little easier, we are going to take a quick look at some of the current options and terminology to help you get a better understanding of what is on the shelf.
Building a 10/22 Into The Ultimate 22LR Survival Rifle – Building a 10/22 into the ultimate 22LR survival rifle takes some picking and choosing, with aftermarket parts available for basically every piece of the gun. But, this is also what makes building a 10/22 the perfect rifle to try your hand at gunsmithing on, since most tasks can be done with just a few common tools.
The Easy AR15 Build, Parts I – IV – We walk step-by-step through one of the easiest ways to assemble your own custom AR15 with just a handful of simple tools.
What To Look For When Buying a Suppressor – Knowing what to consider makes it easier to pick from among all the new technology and sometimes complicated options when buying a suppressor.
IAC Hawk 981R / 982 / 982T Disassembly – The Hawk shotgun is definitely one of the best home defense values on the market. Learn how to easily disassemble one for cleaning and upgrades.
Build Your Own Chamber Flags – Chamber flags are an easy way to make sure that a firearm is not loaded. They can be handmade in just a few minutes with a few simple items.
Fast & Easy Glock Magazine Cleaning and Maintenance – The big payoff is that you can literally feel the difference in how smooth a cleaned and dry-lubed follower runs inside a mag body compared to an unloved magazine.
Seven Cheap Ignition and Tinder Options For Fire Building – There are all kinds of creative ways to start a fire in an emergency situation. However, a little planning and preparation can save you from the stress of trying to conjure fire building sparks from a battery and a gum wrapper while shivering.
Fire Building – Learn The Teepee Fire Lay – A big part of making it easy to start a warm fire lies in the proper arrangement of the wood. Packing the fuel too tightly limits airflow and suffocates the flames. Not enough fuel will cause the fire to die out prematurely. One of the easiest and most effective fire lays to add to your survival skills is the teepee style, but there are a few tricks that go into the build.
Three Easy Tricks For How To Find Fatwood – Fatwood is the free firestarter that can be found almost anywhere there is a pine tree. One common question, though is how to find fatwood? It doesn’t matter if you call it fatwood, lightwood, heartwood, or some other regional variation. The magic behind this old woodsman’s trick lies in the lifecycle of the trees.
How to Make Char Cloth, The Easy Way – Char cloth is a very traditional fire starter which, according to some, has been around since before the middle ages. It is commonly used as the tinder in spark based fire starting methods, such as with a ferro rod or flint and steel. This makes it an excellent way to ignite handfuls of dry grass, pine straw, or leaves when a lighter is not available.
A Folding Knife, Your Pocket Companion – Wanting a good knife in your pocket is nothing new. Archaeologists have found evidence that the earliest people not only had stone knives but also were working to improve them. Quite surprisingly, the Romans had a multibladed folder. Today, a good knife is still one of the most useful tools that you can keep in your toolbox, or even better, in your pocket.
Shining Some Light On Flashlights – You would be hard-pressed to find a house that doesn’t have at least one old flashlight stuffed away in a desk or kitchen drawer. Flashlights have come a long way over the last few years. On a good, modern LED flashlight dead bulbs are a thing of the past and they can run for days on the same set of batteries.
Build a Paracord Rope Kit – Paracord, also known as 550 cord, has earned a place alongside duct tape as a multipurpose item for repairs and more. This slim, green rope was originally used by the military to attach people to parachutes, so it is fairly strong and lightweight. Our goal is to create a set of precut and ready to use lengths of rope that will save time and help avoid waste.