How to prepare for an influenza pandemic

A Hypothetical Influenza Pandemic

Terrorists working in a bioweapons lab in Pakistan complete their work on a new strain of avian/bird flu, or H5N1. They have labored for 18 months to engineer an influenza virus that is easily passed from person to person.

Finally they have succeeded.

Twelve very excited martyrs with turbans are assembled and exposed to the virus.

Today, they will be responsible for the death of millions of innocent men, women, and children. They believe this will secure a place for them in heaven with dozens of virgins at their disposal. They could not be happier.

After exposure to the deadly virus, the twelve men board international flights for destinations such as London, Rome, New York, and Moscow. As the planes achieve cruising altitude, the infected men are already sneezing and coughing, spreading the H5N1 virus quickly to the other unsuspecting passengers.

As the flights land and the passengers board their connecting flights, each newly infected passenger infects 100 other passengers. The virus is spread globally in a matter of hours. Within 18 hours the twelve Islamists are dead, and twelve more infected martyrs are intentionally infecting the crowds at NFL football games across the United States.

In cities around the world, the hospitals begin to fill with sick people exhibiting flu-like symptoms: coughing, sneezing, runny nose.

influenza pandemicPeople begin to die en masse in the packed waiting rooms. As the antibiotic and vaccine supply is quickly exhausted, the new strain of virus is identified and research begins on a new vaccine.

The vaccine will take months to develop and produce. Soon the hospitals are overflowing with dying patients as the medical personnel also become sick and begin to die.

Many nurses and doctors stop going to work in an attempt to save their own families.

Rumors spread about the influenza virus, and so does the panic. The interstates surrounding major cities are clogged with people attempting to flee, but the traffic jams only help to propagate the disease.

Thousands die at their steering wheels, adding their vehicles to the vast roadblocks which stretch for miles in all directions.

People are now dying faster than they can be buried. Ice skating rinks are used as morgues. 38 hospitals nationwide are closed. Hotels in Philadephia and Washington, D.C., are seized and converted into makeshift hospitals. The National Guard is called up in Texas to preserve order at the few hospitals that are still open.

Four major newspapers receive letters from the terrorist organizations which are responsible for the disaster, detailing what they have done. The terrorists no longer want to keep it a secret, knowing that as the news spreads, so will the terror.

The virus continues to spread at a geometric rate. Texas closes its public schools and borders, but it is far too late. Eight other states follow suit within 24 hours.

Trade is suspended on the New York Stock Exchange. The supply system begins to fail and rumors of food shortages begin to circulate.

Panic buying ensues, which quickly degenerates into riots and looting. As the networks spread the news and the fear, the riots escalate. Stores in urban centers are picked clean, and then burned. National Guard, police, and fire department personnel stop going to work as they try to isolate their families from the disease and the anarchy.

influenza pandemicOver a period of 6 days, 85% of Los Angeles is burned to the ground. Philadelphia and Detroit suffer the same fate 2 days later. Inner city citizens ravage and destroy their own neighbourhood and homes.

Now in addition to being sick and hungry, they are homeless. Vaccine riots wipe out Atlanta. The only way out of the cities now is to walk or ride a bicycle. Bicycles change hands frequently as their riders are murdered.

The desperate hordes of people who stream from the cities out into the countryside on foot do not fare much better. Entire families die of starvation and exposure along the suburban roadsides. Countless other people lose their lives attempting to steal food and supplies.

The federal government bans public gatherings and declares martial law. Travel is banned and quarantines are enforced. Looters are shot on sight.

A federal laboratory in Maryland finally develops a vaccine and begins to mass produce it. One week later, terrorists in Washington, D.C. send forth more Islamic martyrs carrying a new strain of influenza virus. Since this virus has been intentionally mutated again, it is resistant to the newly developed vaccine. This greatly complicates the work of those who are trying to save the population, but the terrorists have an unanticipated problem; the global economy and transportation have collapsed. Millions have died. The only way to spread the disease now is by individuals, and isolated communities have erected barricades, shooting strangers on sight. The spread of the new wave of influenza is much slower.

Eventually the Islamic terrorist organizations are stamped out and the vaccines are distributed. Small communities of survivors band together and attempt to rebuild civilization. This will take many years because 75% of the global population has perished.

[Author’s note: a projected 75% mortality rate is actually quite low. The UN’s pandemic czar has warned that a terrorist-sponsored pandemic could cause the “virtual extinction of humankind.”]

How To Prepare For an Influenza Pandemic

A pandemic is an epidemic that spreads to several continents, usually involving a new strain of virus. While a smaller scale epidemic may sicken those with weak immune systems such as the very young or elderly, a pandemic is much less selective and much more virulent.

Understanding influenza

influenza pandemic subtypes

Plague and cholera pandemics have occurred several times in history, but the current pandemic concern is influenza.

[Tweet “A truly global influenza pandemic strikes every 30-50 years. #SHTF #PrepperTalk”]

In 1918, an influenza pandemic remembered as the “Spanish Flu” killed 30 million people. People would wake up and feel a bit feverish, then die before nightfall.

One of the frightening aspects of the 1918 influenza pandemic was that it struck down young, healthy adults who would have survived a normal flu outbreak. Equally troubling about the influenza virus is the speed with which it mutates, making vaccines extremely difficult to manufacture.

Symptoms and treatment

Influenza is spread by contact. Symptoms include fever, cough, lethargy, loss of appetite, headache, sore throat, runny nose, and joint pain.

Occasionally symptoms might include vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no effective cure for influenza.

Treatment consists of antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza.

Peramivir is another antiviral drug, but used only with hospitalized patients. Peramivir is an intravenous drug approved for use under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. Treatment of antiviral drugs should be administered within 48 hours of onset of symptoms. The influenza virus is resistant to older flu drugs.

Swine flu (H1N1)

The H1N1 strain of the influenza virus has caused mild seasonal flu patterns since 1977 and was not a major concern until 2009.

However, In 2009 an unrelated and new strain of the H1N1 virus caused a global stir as it spread worldwide, affecting nearly every country. This new strain became known as “swine flu” because it first jumped to humans from live pigs as it mutated.

It is important to understand that the H1N1 pandemic is spread now from human to human, and not from pigs.

Most of the deaths since 2009 occurred in young, healthy adults, alarmingly similar to the 1918 influenza pandemic. Since the H1N1 pandemic now involves a new strain of virus, people have no immunity and thousands have died as a result.

[Tweet “The H1N1 pandemic is spread now from human to human, and not from pigs. #PrepperTalk”]

Avian influenza (“BIRD FLU”)

H5N1 is a relatively new strain of virus on the world stage. In some cases the virus has been contracted from infected poultry, and it is deadly.

Scientists worldwide are concerned because at some point it may mutate into a virus which can be transmitted from human to human. At that point the death toll will be staggering as the virus spreads quickly from person to person via intercontinental travel.

Red alert

The World Health Organization (WHO) closely monitors flu cases globally because the next influenza pandemic is a major concern. The WHO has a system of six phases to classify the pandemic threat condition:

  1. Phase 1: No influenza outbreaks.
  2. Phase 2: A new virus has been found in animals, but not humans.
  3. Phase 3: Humans have been infected by animal strains of virus, but the infection has not spread from person-to-person.
  4. Phase 4: Infection has spread on a limited basis from person-to-person, but only in a localized region.
  5. Phase 5: The virus is spreading quickly from person-to-person, but is limited to one area.
  6. Phase 6: The virus has spread worldwide in pandemic proportions.

Due to the H5N1 virus, we are now at Phase 3.

The virus can currently only infect humans who are exposed to sick birds. However, it cannot jump from human to human.

If it mutates further and can be transmitted from person-to-person, we will move quickly through the phases to Phase 6- pandemic.

What to expect in an influenza pandemic

According to the World Health Organization, the next pandemic will spread rapidly worldwide because of so much international travel.

Antibiotics and vaccines will quickly run out because the pandemic will involve a new virus. It will be months before new vaccines are available to combat the new strain of virus.

Hospitals will be overwhelmed with sick and dying patients. The shortage of medical personnel will become more pronounced as the virus spreads, adding to the death toll.

Terrorism and influenza

Officials are much less worried about a naturally occurring pandemic than the intentional spreading of influenza by Islamic terrorists. It is possible to “bio-engineer” the virus so that it spreads easily and quickly from person to person. One intentionally infected terrorist, probably carrying avian flu, could attend a football game or a NASCAR race, infecting thousands in a geometric progression.

A more likely terrorist plot would involve several infected Islamic martyrs boarding a dozen simultaneous international flights. The sneezing and coughing terrorists would infect the other passengers and spread the virus globally in a matter of hours.

Since the virus would be a new mutation, it would take months to synthesize a vaccine. The death toll would reach into the hundreds of millions. All international travel would be stopped as the borders were closed, but it would be far too late. Within 3 weeks, the supply system would grind to a halt. Panic buying and food shortages would follow immediately, along with riots and martial law.

Efforts to contain the pandemic would be hampered by the ongoing efforts of the terrorists to spread the virus. There is no shortage of Islamic martyrs. The UN’s drug czar has warned that this could be the “virtual extinction of mankind.”

How do I prepare for a pandemic

  1. Stay Healthy Now– Eat a healthy well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, get enough sleep. These three things will help keep your immune system strong. Don’t smoke and don’t overindulge in alcohol on a regular basis. Booze saps nutrients, which weakens the immune system.
  2. Avoid Sick People– Try to stay away from people who have flu-like symptoms as much as possible.
  3. Wash Your Hands– Influenza is spread by contact. Develop the habit of washing your hands several times a day with anti-bacterial soap and water, or alcohol-based hand cleaner that you can use at your desk or in your vehicle.
  4. Emergency Kit– Build an emergency kit in case you have to stay home for several days or, in a worst case scenario, leave home immediately. This kit should have all the essential items that you might need in a crisis: bottled water, canned foods, MRE’s, flashlights, batteries, medications, 1st Aid Kits, etc. You might purchase one or two 72-hour Survival Kits such as those available at and then add specific items that suit your needs.

A comprehensive emergency food storage plan for the thorough prepper

Good food is a critical part of morale, especially with people who are under a great deal of stress. Nobody understands this better than the United States Navy. United States submarine crews are under relentless stress while on duty, and they are the best fed soldiers in the world because morale is so vital.

To sensibly start a food storage plan, take notice of what your family likes to eat now. Make a list and keep track of everything you use in a two-month period.

The next time you go grocery shopping, simply buy a little extra of those items. You should not buy things for your storage plan that you wish your family would eat, because of its nutritional value for example.

[Tweet “Nutritional food is important, but only buy things that you family will actually eat. #Shtf”]

Be realistic in your buying habits. Food storage is a wise investment, but only if you eat what you store.

When storing groceries, buy only things that you know your family likes and will eat. The rule is ‘store foods that you eat and eat the foods that you store.’

During a crisis is not the time to crack open a five gallon bucket of hard grain and start feeding your family pearled barley mush if they are not used to it.

All your preparation will be worthless if your family would rather starve to death than eat the austere survival food that you have stored.

If you want to start stockpiling particular foods that are not in your diet at this time, start serving them occasionally now and get everybody used to them.

Find creative ways to cook items such as rice and beans, for example.

In stressful times people want foods they are familiar with and that they like. Rather than eat food that they don’t like or are not used to, people under stress will prefer to not eat at all, which ushers in new problems such as severe depression and sickness.

  1. Beverage items such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate packs, and Kool-Aid are a must for morale, and should last for several years if stored properly.
  2. Bouillon cubes are great seasonings for dishes such as soups and rice. They come in a variety of flavors such as chicken and beef and should keep for about three years.
  3. Granola bars and fruit bars will provide variety and should have a shelf life of about one year. The food will still be edible past this time frame, but the nutritional value may suffer.
  4. chocolate is important part of food storage and is of the most commonly overlooked parts of a well-stocked pantry is the comfort food section. Comfort food is something such as hard candy or chocolate whose main purpose is to be a morale-booster. This may not seem important to you now, but in very stressful times the psychological effect of these foods is hard to overestimate, especially with children. Chocolate has a shelf life of about two years.
  5. Canned fruits are a must, not only for morale but for quick energy.
  6. Another good suggestion is pop-tarts. They are very well sealed, can be heated easily, are tasty cold, and are handy on the go. They have a shelf life of well over a year if stored in a cool environment.
  7. Be sure to also include a wide variety of spices, especially salt and pepper. Granulated sugar has a shelf life of several years if you can prevent infestation. Jellies and jams only have a shelf life of one year because the sugar content breaks down over time. The food may still be edible past this time frame, but the nutritional value may suffer.

How to cook your stored food during a crisis is covered here.

Avoiding appetite fatigue

Most people don’t have enough variety in their stored foods. Some even feel that people will eat anything if they get hungry enough, and that variety is unnecessary.

That myopic view will doom a food storage plan to failure. It is a sure invitation to appetite fatigue, which is the preference to not eat at all rather than eat the same thing over and over again.

This malady is similar to the problem suffered by people under stress who will not eat food that they are unaccustomed to.

Children are especially susceptible to this problem, and will often rather starve than eat repetitive foods. This can all be avoided by simply storing a variety of basic foods and some comfort foods. A simple variety of flavorings and spices can make a crucial difference and should figure prominently in your planning.


Dietary protein is essential because it contains amino acids which are used in the function of every cell in your body.

Canned tuna and salmon are perhaps the ultimate sources of protein in a home food storage program because of their protein concentration, long shelf life, widespread familiarity, good taste, and affordability.

Beef stew, canned hams, and Spam are also rich in protein. Spam has a nearly indefinite shelf life if properly stored. Canned meats and fish can have a shelf life of more than five years if stored at cool constant temperatures. The food may still be edible past this time frame, but the nutritional value will suffer.

Another excellent source of fat and protein is peanut butter. Creamy peanut butter will keep about three years if unopened and stored properly, while crunchy style has a shelf life of less than two years.

Once opened, peanut butter should be consumed in about four months. Peanut butter is a good comfort food to store because kids love it and it is very nutritious if you buy the leading brands.

Don’t buy the cheap brands of peanut butter because they sometimes process out the peanut oil and replace it with hydrogenated oils.

Forget powdered peanut butter because it is too grainy and it doesn’t taste good.

Nuts in general are good to store because they are high in fat and protein. Due to their high fat content, they must be protected from oxygen and heat like cooking oil. Unshelled nuts store better and have a longer shelf life than shelled nuts. They can theoretically be stored about five years, if you can provide an oxygen-free storage environment.

Survival garden

Another way to avoid appetite fatigue is to have a small garden.

A garden provides fresh nutritious vegetables and variety to your food storage plan. It also makes your food stash last longer, which can be critical.

There is something special about having your own garden, even if it is only a few vegetable plants in a flower bed.

Tomatoes, for example, that you have personally nurtured and raised will taste better than any you will buy in a store.

Be sure to use non-hybrid seeds, so the plants will produce seeds which you can use next year. Store the seeds in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life, which varies but is generally limited to two or three years if stored properly.

Best plants to grow in your survival garden ware tomatoes, onions, green beans, corn, cabbage, peas, carrots, squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

If possible, it is a good idea to raise your own fresh supply of meat, eggs and milk too.

Rabbits, chickens, and goats are the least amount of trouble, and require less space and food than larger animals. This will need to be a family decision, because in recruiting labor for the daily care of these animals you may meet stiff resistance which could quickly turn into open rebellion.

A more peaceful solution may be to store and rotate more canned meat. The Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery, is a good book on self-sufficient living.

No meat? No problem

TVP, or textured vegetable protein, is a meat substitute that has become more popular in recent years. It is made from soybeans after the oil is extracted, and resembles ground meat in taste and texture when cooked.

It is easier to store long-term than ground beef. TVP is cheaper to buy than hamburger and is easier to prepare. It comes in flavors such as beef, chicken, barbeque, taco, sausage, pepperoni, etc.

You just simmer it in water for ten minutes, or simply add it to a recipe instead of meat. Bacon bits used in fresh salads are made of TVP. It has fiber and protein and can be eaten by vegetarians, thanks to its soybean origin.

Textured vegetable proteins make a great food storage item, but try it on your family in a few recipes before you buy up a basement full of it. While it does have protein, the quality is still not as good as that found in animal flesh. The taste is not very good and it is full of additives, which may affect the digestive tract. Under the right conditions it can have a shelf life of five years.

Cooking oil

During the shortages of World War II, two of the most valuable and most sought after items were chocolate and cooking oil.

Oil is worth the trouble to store, because cooking oil provides more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein, and in a crisis you may need all the calories you can get due to increased activity.

Cooking oil also makes food much easier to cook and easier to eat. The problem with storing cooking oil is that is goes rancid fairly quickly, being susceptible to light, heat, and air ruination. The most storage life you can expect to get out of cooking oil is about two and a half years, and that is only if you store it in a very cool place, preferably below 60 degrees.

The exception to this is hydrogenated shortening in metal cans, which may have a shelf life of fifteen years. Once opened, it will last about six months. Once it begins to darken it should no longer be used.

Olive oil also stores well. Cooking oil, like many other items, does much better when stored in a refrigerator.


If you already grind your own wheat, you are far ahead of the curve and you have a big advantage. Wheat is the backbone for most food storage plans because it is very nutritious and affordable, it provides freshness and variety, and it has a staggering number of uses.

  1. The gluten found in wheat is a valuable protein.
  2. Wheat’s most common cooking form, flour, is used to make bread, pie crusts, crackers, pasta, pancakes, and a whole host of other items.
  3. Baking with wheat can be a very rewarding pastime, and there is no arguing that whole wheat bread is far more nutritious than the white bleached flour foods in our diet. White flour is stripped of its bran, germ, and nutrients, unlike unprocessed wheat flour. In fact, we would be healthier if we could dispense with vitamin-leached white flour products and use whole wheat instead in our normal daily routine.

But this is not about the normal daily routine. This is about emergency situations that are fraught with stress and tension. Very few people in a crisis will realistically learn to use a grain mill to crack wheat for cereal.

Even fewer will learn to grind their own flour, and learn to bake their own bread and pies if they are not doing so already.

Can you set up a grain mill right now with the proper settings to produce suitable flour textures for cooking, or for cereal? Can you prevent a grinder from gumming up and becoming useless?

In the middle of a crisis is no time to learn. If you are going to store buckets of whole wheat, you had better learn to use that grinder today, not tomorrow.

You will find that working a hand-cranked grain mill is a lot of work, and you may have to re-grind the same flour more than once. This can also get tiring, hot, and frustrating, since it may take over twenty minutes of hard work to hand-grind a pound of flour. Electric mills will be useless if the power is out.

Additionally, in a crisis situation cooking fuel may be a very prized commodity, and cooking these wheat products will require a lot of it.

You may also be sitting in a shelter or home that is sweltering hot, and a cooking fire would make it that much worse.


Though they are slightly less nutritious than fresh wheat products, regular canned goods are already cooked. They can be eaten slightly warmed or cold, right out of the can.

A large amount of stored canned goods in your pantry can also give you time to gradually change over to wheat-based food in a more protracted event. This could be important, because unprocessed grains are likely to be one of the more common foods available in an actual famine. Slowly adding wheat products to your diet gives your digestive system time to acclimate to their harsh colonic effects.

Whole-grain products such as barley, buckwheat and rye are fine healthy products but you have to start using them now, not after the SHTF.

It is better to learn from your cooking mistakes now, when food is abundant and cheap. In a crisis, the learning curve is apt to be much steeper and much more critical.

Get a grinder today and try baking several dishes before spending your hard-earned money on a dozen buckets of wheat.

You also need to know if your family will eat the food, can tolerate the gluten, and if they will notice any calamitous digestive consequences.

Suddenly switching to a high-fiber diet can cause acute abdominal pain and severe diarrhea. Start slowly, until everyone’s systems get used to it.

Before incorporating stored wheat into your plan, you must firmly establish that your family can and will eat it. If that is the case, then buy a bunch of it, but store it in the whole-berry form and rotate it through your food system like everything else.

Some people love to bake using whole wheat and we salute them. They will reap the many benefits that wheat has to offer.

Don’t forget to stock a bunch of toilet paper. With a brand new whole-grain diet, you are going to need it.

Dairy products

There is also little mention of dairy products in this emergency food storage plan. Dairy products provide calcium, protein, and vitamins in our daily diet, but in the end you will probably throw out the cans of evaporated milk, the boxes of nonfat powdered milk, and the powdered eggs because they will most likely spoil long before they are used.

  • If you are going to include dried dairy products in your storage plan, you should be willing to rotate them and use them on a daily basis now, not just in a crisis.
  • If you insist on storing powdered milk because your kids are used to having milk daily, you had better start them on it now. The taste of powdered milk takes some getting used to.

The numbers on estimated shelf lives for dairy products vary considerably from source to source. Canned milk products have a shelf life of maybe one year if stored in a consistently cool room, but the cans must be turned frequently.

Some say that non-fat powdered milk will only last one year before losing all its nutritional value. Others say it will last for ten years if properly stored.

Under normal circumstances, it has been our experience that non-fat powdered milk will last about three years if stored under optimal conditions, and the taste even when it is fresh off the shelf is chalky at best.

That taste does not improve with time.

Fresh eggs are perhaps the best source of protein. Dehydrated eggs are also a good source of protein, but the chances of your actually using this product are slim as well. The shelf life of dehydrated eggs is about three years, and then they get thrown out with the powdered milk. Spend your money on something else, something that you will actually use instead of throwing it out.

Dietary supplements

A body that is under stress will have greater nutritional requirements, so vitamins are mandatory in a smart food storage plan.

The nutritional supplements should be stored in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life and rotated to keep them current.

Shelf life will vary according to ingredients, brand, and type. Hard tablets have the longest shelf life because they are least affected by moisture. Moisture and heat are a vitamin’s greatest threats to longevity. Most vitamins have expiration dates, so rotate them and use them daily now.

Vitamin C deficiency

Vitamin deficiency is not something that is likely to be a problem unless the crisis lasts more than a month or so.

Usually the first to appear is scurvy, which is caused by a deficiency of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Vitamin C is an antioxidant and is therefore thought to play a role in cancer prevention. It is essential for collagen formation, thus promoting wound healing.

Vitamin C builds the immune system and performs a wide variety of functions in the body. Typical symptoms of scurvy are swollen and bleeding gums and loose teeth. This is soon followed by weakness and large bruises that will not heal.

Cabbage, sour kraut, and citrus fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C. The best way to store vitamin C is in its crystalline form, as pure ascorbic acid.

Vitamin A

It is unusual for a person to have a vitamin A deficiency because of the large amount stored in the liver of a normally healthy person.

However, in case it happens infants and children are generally affected first, usually after a period of several months.

The classic symptom of vitamin A deficiency is temporary night blindness, which can lead to permanent blindness if the deficiency is not corrected. The best sources for vitamin A include liver, eggs, milk, butter, carrots, and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin D

A vitamin D deficiency interferes with calcium absorption and causes a disease known as rickets. This affects children and causes inadequate mineralization in developing cartilage and newly formed bone, resulting in abnormalities in shape and structure of bones, especially the long bones.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include soreness and tenderness, pallor, slight diarrhoea, enlargement of liver and spleen, and badly formed teeth.

The best sources for vitamin D are fish liver oils, eggs, fortified milk, and sunlight. The body uses the ultraviolet rays of the sun to synthesize vitamin D.


Pellagra is a disease caused by a deficiency of niacin. Symptoms include dermatitis, ulcers, nausea, diarrhoea, memory loss, confusion, and delirium.

Sources for niacin include yeast, liver, organ meats, peanuts, and wheat germ.

Vitamin B1

Beriberi is a deficiency of vitamin B1, or thiamine. Symptoms include peripheral neuritis (pain) and heart disease. Thiamine sources include meat, nuts, eggs, beans, and vegetables.

Pernicious anemia is not likely to affect most people, because healthy individuals tend to have approximately a three year supply in their liver. It is also readily available in meat. Although there are others, these are the most likely vitamin deficiencies to be encountered by most people in a disaster.

  1. Have an ample store of multivitamins, vitamin C tablets, and children’s multivitamins on your shelf.
  2. Vitamins should be taken with meals on a daily basis.
  3. Breast-fed infants need vitamins D and A, and may require vitamin C supplements. For children and infants, simply crush half a multivitamin tablet into a fine powder and stir it into their food or drink. This is very important, because infants could begin to show vitamin A, C, and D deficiencies after only one month.
  4. Brief daily exposure to sunlight will assist in vitamin D production, but no more than ten minutes is recommended. Children’s vitamins may also be stored and administered in liquid or chewable form.
  5. Plan to store about seven pounds of table salt per person for a year’s supply. Not only is it important for flavor, but salt is critical for cell function, muscle function, maintenance of water balance, blood coagulation, and regulation of blood volume. If stored in a plastic or glass container, salt will store indefinitely and is unaffected by oxygen, heat, or light.


Sugar and honey are important sources of energy in an emergency. We are not going to engage here in the debate over whether or not these items are healthy. Our goal is to survive a disaster which may require a lot of stamina and energy. Sugar and honey can be very important for this.

White sugar is a concentrate which comes from processed cane or sugar beets. When stored properly it keeps indefinitely, although it may take on a yellow hue. This will not affect the taste or nutritional value.

Honey is sweeter than sugar and is markedly more expensive. Nectar gathered from different flowers accounts for different flavors and colors in honey.

The darker the honey, the stronger the flavor.

Sometimes commercial honey has water added to it and this hurts shelf life by allowing fermentation and mold. Pure honey still has some water in it but can be stored indefinitely in a cold environment. With time it will crystallize and darken, but properly stored honey will resume its original form when warmed up.

Glass jars of honey should be zealously covered from light which will change the color and the taste. Since honey is not sterile, it can cause botulism in infants less than one year old.

The Center For Disease Control web site says that “because honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum and this has been a source of infection for infants, children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey. Honey is safe for persons one year of age or older.”

Symptoms of botulism in infants include lethargy, constipation, a weak cry, and they feed poorly. Infant botulism is not usually fatal. We recommend that you store granulated sugar for infants instead of honey.

Sweet foods such as canned fruits are also a great source of energy, as well as pre-sweetened drink mix packets such as Kool-Aid or Tang.

Tang is a particularly good drink mix to store because it also has a lot of vitamin C. Children and infants have higher metabolisms and require higher energy foods, and in a crisis sugar can fill that niche.

Allergies and intolerances

A crisis would be a bad time to learn that a member of your group is intolerant to gluten or lactose, especially a child or a small infant.

  • The gluten found in unprocessed wheat sometimes causes an allergic reaction in some individuals.
  • Lactose is milk sugar and infants, as well as adults, are sometimes unable to digest it.

Unfortunately, gluten and lactose allergies can suddenly develop without warning, or they can build up over time. These ailments can also grow more severe in a food program that is dominated by these foods because some people aren’t aware they have a gluten or lactose allergy until it becomes a large part of their diet.

These allergies are another reason why you should incorporate these foods into your diet now if you plan to store them. Gluten and lactose intolerances are another reason that powdered dairy products and raw grains are not stressed in this food storage program.

Factors of food storage

Three microorganisms that you must guard against in food storage are bacteria, yeast, and molds.

  • In unopened canned goods, this problem is pretty much solved since the heat kills most of the harmful microbes during processing.
  • Placing food in the freezer will kill insect larvae but will not kill microorganisms. The freezing doesn’t kill microbes, it just stops them from growing.

Four other important factors that can shorten the storage life of food are condensation, oxygen, light, and pH.

Condensation is a problem because it is a vehicle for mold and mildew which can ruin your food. To help thwart condensation, keep your containers off the floor, especially concrete, and out of contact with exterior walls to avoid temperature differences.

With concrete floors, place slats of lumber under the food to prevent condensation inside the containers. If your basement floods occasionally, store the containers on shelves above the water line and store the canned goods on wood slats on the floor. They have a better chance of weathering the dampness, but the labels may peel off.

Oxygen is used by microorganisms such as bacteria that cause food to spoil. Oxygen-related damage to foods in new sealed packages is usually kept to a minimum because moisture-proof containers also tend to be air-tight.

If you are buying in bulk and storing in smaller packaged portions, you have three basic options for keeping the oxygen to a minimum: vacuum sealing, flushing with inert gas and chemical oxygen absorbers.

  1. Vacuum sealing can be performed with a commercial food sealer.
  2. Flushing with gas displaces the oxygen in the package, discouraging the growth of microorganisms which need the oxygen to thrive.
  3. Placing oxygen absorbers in the package does essentially the same thing.

Light might seem harmless, but it saps the nutrition and vitamins out of your food. Any type of container that light can get through is a problem. If you can’t keep your containers and jars in a dark room, then keep them completely covered up or closed up in cardboard boxes.

The single most important factor affecting the shelf life of food is temperature.

The importance of cool temperatures for food storage cannot be overstated.

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Storage temperatures should be less than 60 degrees, and around 40 degrees would be ideal. Consistent temperatures are important because temperature swings can cut the shelf life of your food in half.

Generally, you can also figure that every 20 degree increase in temperature will cost you 50% in food shelf life. For this reason garages and attics are terrible places to store food. Basements and cellars are strongly preferred for food storage because not only are they cool, but the temperature remains relatively constant.

A dry crawl space works well for the same reasons.


homemade-rotating-can-rackYou should have a working system of rotation so that the food you purchase gets used before it expires.

One way to make the rotation of food much easier is to build self-feeding shelves in your pantry or closet. Self-feeding racks can be purchased online for reasonable prices.

Each shelf slants slightly toward the front, and has a small lip on it. Newly purchased cans of food are added to the back, gradually working their way forward as the food in front is used. This idea works better if you have easy access to the back of the shelves for stocking.

Perhaps you could design your own shelf that continuously feeds the cans, but fits up against the wall and does not require access to the back of the shelves.

With each trip to the store, simply add a few items to your reserve. If an item that you routinely buy is on sale at a great price, add a bunch of it to your inventory.

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Take a Sharpie marker and write the date of purchase on the top of the can or bag as you stock up. Always move the oldest items to the front of the shelf and use it first. Always put the new stuff toward the back.

Rotating your food is critical because it prevents throwing money away in the form of unused, expired goods

It also allows your family to get used to the types of foods you are storing, if you will incorporate them into your cooking.

Rotation is important not only to prevent food spoilage, but also to minimize the loss of nutritional value as the food ages.

Camping is a great time to introduce new foods that you are considering stockpiling, especially dehydrated foods because they don‘t require the hassle of a cooler and ice.



How to use your freezer to store survival food for up to 5 years

One of the best ways to impede the progress of food-spoiling bacteria is to freeze your survival food. This doesn’t kill the bacteria like heat does, but it slows it down to a near standstill.

A downside to a freezer can be its significant contribution to the monthly electric bill, so it pays to take a few steps to keep your freezer running as efficiently as possible.

  1. First, keep it in the basement or someplace cool so that it doesn’t have to work as hard in the summer. The carport or garage is not a good location choice for this reason.
  2. Second, keep it full of food. The less empty air there is to cool inside your freezer, the lower your electric bill will be. But keep in mind that a freezer that is packed too full won’t be as efficient because the air won’t circulate as easily.
  3. Third, keep several bags of ice and two-liter soda bottles filled with water in your freezer so there will be less empty air to cool. The soda bottles would also help your food stay frozen longer in a power outage, at which time they will provide a valuable source of clean drinking water.

In a power outage, a full freezer will keep food cool for up to two days, but only if it is left unopened.

You can extend the amount of time your frozen food will stay frozen by keeping the freezer door shut as much as possible and only opening it when you absolutely have to.

You can also wrap blankets around the freezer and around the refrigerator as additional insulation, using tape or ropes to hold the blankets in place.

If the power outage occurs in the winter, you can put the food in coolers and set it outside, as long as the outside temperature is below freezing. It is a good idea to have several large camping-type ice chests around the house, since they have a variety of uses.

Your refrigerator will probably not be a big issue after the power has been out for a week or more, because you won’t be able to buy anything to put in it. The refrigerated section of the stores will be empty.

Once the power comes back on, you can refreeze food that is less than 40 degrees, or still has ice crystals in it.

If there are no ice crystals, the food will have to be cooked and eaten.

Do not refreeze food that has thawed.

Fish and seafood tends to spoil very quickly, so they may be unsalvageable when other items can be refrozen.

If it looks like the power is going to be out for several days, you need to start cooking or dehydrating the foods in your refrigerator and freezer, because you will probably lose it to spoilage if you don’t.

If your cooking stove is electric, you will have to use your camp stove, grill, or dehydrator. Never use your grill indoors for safety reasons.

Survival generator

None of this will be as big of a problem if you have a working survival generator and the fuel to operate it.

Simply plug your freezer into the generator and run it for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. That should prevent the frozen food from thawing.

The money you would save in ruined food alone would pay for a good generator. Even if you can’t run the generator long enough to keep the food frozen, it may delay the food’s spoilage, giving you time to figure out a solution before the food goes bad.

The main drawback to a generator is the scarcity of fuel when you need it the most.

An even better idea is a gas-operated refrigerator. It runs unaffected when the power is out, keeps food better, and will probably last longer than an electrical refrigerator.

Long term food storage

Whereas home canning products can have a shelf life of up to five years, frozen food will only last a year or so before freezer burn begins to take its toll.

One thing you can do to help prolong your food’s shelf life in the freezer is to wrap it properly. That is very important. If you know how to use white freezer paper to properly wrap meat, then by all means do so.

The best bet, however, is to make a small investment in a vacuum sealer like those made by Foodsaver.

These units greatly extend the shelf life and freshness of frozen food. The price has come down dramatically in recent years and they are now very affordable. These nifty machines suck all the air out of a tough clear plastic bag, and then seal the food air-tight for freshness.

The bags come in several sizes, or you can buy the plastic on a roll and create a bag as large or as small as you want using the bag cutter on the machine.

The bags are waterproof, so the packaged food can be micro waved, frozen, or boiled. You could write the date on the package with a Sharpie pen, put it in the freezer, and be finished.

Vacuum packing systems can be used for meats, vegetables, soups, nearly anything, and the freshness retained is remarkable.

Important to remember

You must develop some reminder system to use the prepper food in your freezer or it will ruin. We are grieved at the thought of how much money we have thrown out the door in the form of freezer-burned food before we developed a reminder system.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Post a list on the refrigerator door of the contents of your freezer, and the date that each item was frozen.

Do something, anything to keep that frozen food from being out of sight, out of mind until it is time to throw it out.

Upright vs chest

chest freezerAnother thing you could do to help delay freezer burn is to buy a chest-type freezer and not an upright one.

Chest-type electric food freezers are better because when opened, the cold air stays at the bottom with a minimum of temperature fluctuation and air circulation.

Upright freezers let all the cold air out every time you open the door, making the motor work harder and running up your electric bill.

The increased air circulation also brings humidity inside the freezer, which is bad for the contents because it promotes freezer burn. Every time that door is opened, the life of the food inside is decreased.

The problem with chest freezers is that Murphy’s Law invariably rules. Whatever you need always seems to be on the bottom of the freezer. Sometimes it is easier to just cook something else than have to dig out the item you are looking for, then put all that stuff back in the freezer. As time goes by the stuff on the bottom eventually ruins and is thrown out.

A lot of items mentioned in this blog, from flashlight batteries to cooking oil, have much longer storage lives when kept cold. Having a second refrigerator would be a good idea and would save you money over the long haul, simply by extending the shelf life of items and preventing spoilage.

Which Survival Guns to Own? Read our detailed analysis and recommendations

Best survival Guns

During the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, Reginald Denny was forcibly pulled out of his truck and savagely beaten nearly to death.

The thugs then danced around his motionless body and victoriously flashed gang signs to the press helicopter circling overhead.

Vandals and looters pillaged and destroyed one business establishment after another.

The exceptions, however, were buildings where the armed owners were present.

CNN carried vivid, live images of importance of survival riflesKorean business owners armed with assault rifles, defending their property as vandals and looters went by their businesses and destroyed the ones on either side of them.

Without exception, the looters left the protected buildings alone. Those Koreans understood clearly that there was no police, no law, and no help on the way.

They knew that they were on their own and they stood their ground.

This is a potent example of how firearms sometimes make a very effective deterrent, and can even save your life without firing a shot.

The right shtf guns

You should always buy good quality firearms and buy specific firearms for specific tasks.

Firearms are nothing more than tools; you wouldn’t try to drive a nail with a screwdriver, so don’t try to defend your family with a .22 pistol.

One gun will not do it all.

Buy the right firearm for the right job.

Get some training from a qualified instructor, and practice at a shooting range until you are proficient with each of your survival guns.

Keep your survival rifles locked up when not in use and make sure that they are always out of reach of children. The best way to do this is to buy key-operated trigger locking devices for each firearm and store the keys in a separate location.

Which guns are best for home defense?

Ask 20 different firearm owners, and you will get some drastically different answers, as well as a sometimes very passionate defense of their choices.

For the purpose of our discussion, survival firearms have three purposes:

  1. The defense of your family
  2. The procurement of food
  3. And the pure enjoyment of target shooting.

What options do you have?

It is vital that you buy a gun that you enjoy shooting. If you don’t, it will lie unused in its case, and your proficiency with it will suffer. Learning to shoot well takes time, patience, and practice.

Here are different options to choose from:

#1 Survival handguns

best survival 22 handguns At least one .22 caliber pistol is a must. Ruger makes some of the best survival .22 pistols for the money. Most skilled marksmen began with a .22 caliber pistol.

A good medium-caliber pistol for self-defense is essential.

For a simple, easy to use, reliable, affordable survival weapon, it is hard to beat a Glock 9mm Smith & Wesson revolver semi-automatic handgun or a Smith & Weston .38 Special revolver.

Some experienced shooters cast aspersions on revolvers in favor of the more advanced semi-automatic pistols like the Colt or the Glock.

But we still maintain that a good revolver has its place in a gun collection, especially for the beginner.

A Smith & Wesson Model 66 .357 Magnum revolver is affordable, accurate, and dependable.

Since a .357 revolver also fires .38 Special ammunition, the Model 66 is the revolver we recommend for the beginner who is already proficient with a .22.

Compared to the .357 Magnum, .38 Special ammo is less expensive, has less recoil, and is more enjoyable to shoot for the novice.

More experienced shooters may prefer the .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

The Colt 1911A1 model .45 Automatic is a magnificent, dependable firearm and may be an experienced shooter’s first choice, but it has significant recoil and is expensive, both to purchase and to shoot.

All things considered, the Glock Model 17 and the Glock Model 19, both of which are 9mm, deserve some consideration.

Caliber choice for your defense handgun is very important. You must choose a caliber that is big enough to do the job, yet small enough for you to be comfortable with.

There is an old saying to the effect that you “would rather hit with a .22 than miss with a .45.” If you cannot shoot your firearm accurately, it will do you no good.

A 9mm handgun is less expensive, is lighter, recoil is less, and magazine capacity is higher in comparison with a .45 ACP.

Of course, in a gunfight, having a 9mm can get you killed.

The minimal stopping power of a 9mm means that your wounded assailant will probably live long enough to kill you before he dies.

The fact that he will die later of his wounds will be of little comfort to you.

best gun for home defenseThe .40 S&W caliber has better ballistics and better knock-down power than the 9mm, but less recoil and higher magazine capacity than the .45 auto.

It is the best of both worlds.

Keep in mind that in a crisis where ammunition is at a premium, .40 S&W ammo may be hard to find since it is not a predominantly popular caliber yet. In that case, you will want to stock extra .40 S&W ammo.

Best survival shotguns

single shot shotguns for survival

A 12-gauge shotgun is good for hunting and sometimes suitable for close range defense. It can be used for hunting large game, hunting small game (using shells with smaller shot size), shooting moving targets, and confronting multiple assailants within 20 yards.

The shotgun owes its versatility in part to the wide selection of shot shells that are available.

“Shot” refers to the pellets contained in each round. A #6 shot shell, for example, contains smaller pellets but more of them when compared to 00 buckshot.

Shells containing smaller shot size are better for shooting small game. Even smaller birdshot is better for upland bird hunting.

One round of 12 gauge 00 buckshot contains nine .33 caliber projectiles and is intended for large game and self-defense. 00 buckshot is also often selected for close combat gunfights.

A shotgun slug is one large lead projectile which basically turns your shotgun into a short-range rifle with a huge one-ounce bullet.

Pump action models made by Winchester and Mossberg are dependable, quality shotguns, but the Remington Model 870 is in a class of its own.

While some may disagree, the Remington 870 is generally accepted as the best survival shotgun for the money.

The Mossberg Model 500 is also a good choice. It is important to note that shotguns do not incorporate a firing pin safety. This means you should never leave a round in the chamber of a shotgun when in storage or on stand-by for emergency purposes.

Other recommended survival firearms

#1 The Springfield Armory M1A

Springfield Armory M1A is a .308The Springfield Armory M1A is a .308 (7.62mm) caliber semi-automatic rifle with supreme accuracy, range, and dependability.

The M1A is basically a semi-automatic, civilian version Springfield M1A rifle .308 (7.62mm)of the M14 combat rifle.

A direct descendant of the M1 Garand used in World War II, the M14 inherited many of the positive aspects which made the Garand so popular.

Unfortunately, the M14 did show some shortcomings in the jungles of Southeast Asia; it was too big and too heavy for jungle warfare, and was nearly impossible to control in full auto.

Still, many United States Marines were grieved to give up their M14′s when the newer M16 were issued in Viet Nam. The M14 was reliable, fast-loading, simple to operate, and nail-driving accurate at one thousand plus yards.

In the civilian market, the Springfield M1A has been a huge success. The jungle shortcomings are not a problem for the American shooters of today.

Bulk is not an issue when shooting targets, and control during full-auto fire is not an issue since the M1A is semi-automatic only. The .308 caliber is also very popular among target shooters and hunters.

If you are fortunate enough to get a National Match version of the M1A, you will enjoy numerous advanced features.

The National Match barrel is a 22″ stainless steel, air-gauged barrel with a 1:11 right-hand twist. The trigger is two-stage with a 4 1/2 lb. pull. The action is glass-bedded and the stock is a beautiful high-grade walnut.

The National Match sights have one-half m.o.a. windage and elevation adjustments.

In any variation, the Springfield M1A is a magnificent firearm and, as such, commands a premium price. It is worth every penny. If you can only have one large caliber rifle in your collection, get a Springfield M1A rifle.

#2 Colt AR-15

Colt AR-15 Survival ShotgunThe Colt AR-15 is a .223 (5.56mm) caliber rifle and is a good and reliable weapon, but is also expensive to purchase.

The price can vary greatly because there are many models available, but the older SP1 models (rifles whose serial numbers begin with ‘SP1’) are the most desirable because they are constructed with better workmanship and materials and are convertible to fully automatic fire.

The newer models have a steel block Colt AR-15 .223 machined into the lower receiver to prevent this conversion and are more cheaply made, but are more affordable.

All in all, the Colt AR-15 is a wonderful survival firearm: simple to use, very accurate, dependable, and a pure joy to shoot. If you are willing to pay the price, at around $800, you will love it.

Some AR-15 parts and all the magazines are interchangeable with the military M16, so extra parts and magazines are very common and inexpensive at gun shows and gun shops.

Ruger Mini 14As an alternative, the Ruger Mini-14 is less expensive, but less accurate.

It is more rugged than the AR-15 and functions better under sandy or muddy conditions.

Mini-14 parts, when you can find them, are expensive. The Chinese SKS 7.62×39 is a cheaper option.

In wilderness survival guns, you get what you pay for. We would much rather face an opponent with a Chinese SKS than one with a Springfield M1A.

Full auto survival guns

Semi-automatic so-called ‘assault rifles,’ generally speaking, are easy to operate, fun to shoot, reasonably accurate, and usually dependable.

We would advise against a fully automatic weapon for all but the most experienced shooters.

Even though they are a lot of fun to shoot, fully automatic guns are unbelievably expensive to purchase and they consume a horrendous amount of ammunition.

The ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) permit and paperwork to legally own what is known as a Class III firearm is a major paperwork hassle, costs $200, and can take up to a year before your application goes through.

You must have the approved ATF application in hand before you can legally possess a full auto firearm.

And don’t even think about buying a machine gun that does not have the proper stamps from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms division of the Department of the Treasury, United States Government.

It is not worth the risk.

The same goes for illegally altering semi-automatic rifles to shoot full-auto. That offense carries the same mandatory minimum of fifteen years in a federal penitentiary, even for a first-time offender.

Building your survival ammo stockpile

choosing the best survival ammoHow much ammo should you I stockpile for each gun?

That is another source of endless debate among gun enthusiasts, and it depends on the firearm ammunition and what type of disaster that you are planning for.

The .22 long rifle caliber is one of the most important calibers in your home defense because it is probably the most versatile. This caliber does very well in pistols and rifles alike, has countless uses, and is comparatively quiet.

Since .22 LR ammunition is also very inexpensive and has a long shelf life, it wouldn’t hurt to occasionally buy a brick (500 rounds) to stick back.

It also makes a great inexpensive gift. Ask your family to buy you a brick of .22 shells for Christmas and Father’s Day.

3,000 rounds of .22 ammunition is a bare minimum of what you should consider adequate because the .22 has so many uses. And since it stores well, it wouldn’t hurt to store more than that.

In larger caliber pistols such as the 9mm or .45 Automatic, you should have a bare minimum of 500 rounds stored per gun in your collection. That is not per caliber, but per firearm.

You should also have a good selection of specialized ammo in each caliber for self-defense. Some very good choices are the Cor-Bon jacketed hollow points and the Remington Golden Sabers.

winchester fail safe ammoA personal favorite is the Winchester Fail Safe jacketed hollow-point bullet, formerly known as the Black Talon.

This bullet has a lead core with a steel insert, and the copper-alloy nose has a notched hollow point cavity.

As the bullet penetrates the target, the nose expands with jagged “petals” that peel back. This slows the rate of the projectile, transfers energy from the bullet to the target, and inflicts an impressive amount of internal damage.

When it comes to the defense of your family, it should be your goal to inflict the maximum amount of internal damage possible on the intruder with the minimum number of shots fired.

Remember, you may get only one shot, and it had better count.

That is why ammunition such as the Winchester Fail Safe is necessary and desirable.

There are a wide variety of other bullet types on the market to choose from. Remember, the fate of your children may rest on the stopping power of the bullet you choose, so choose well.

You will need to experiment with several different types and see which ones your chosen firearm performs the most accurately with, and which ballistic loads you prefer to shoot.

For large caliber bolt-action rifles, 300 hundred rounds of ammo per bolt-action rifle should be sufficient, unless you had the wisdom and foresight to purchase a semi-automatic rifle of the same caliber.

A fine pair of choices in this situation would be a Springfield M1A and a Remington bolt-action Model 700VS, both chambered in .308 caliber.

If you have both a .308 semi-automatic and a .308 bolt gun, we would suggest storing a minimum of 1,000 rounds of .308 ammo.

The .223 caliber poses a special problem in the question of how much ammo to store. That is because you may have more than one gun to feed, and some of those guns may be semi-automatic.

Semi-automatic .223 rifles seem to have a voracious appetite for ammunition. This is probably because the operating action is easy, they are fun to shoot, they have very little recoil, and the ammo is relatively inexpensive. That all adds up to a caliber that will always seem to be in short supply on your shelf.

This brings up another attractive aspect of a .223 bolt-action rifle: it uses the same caliber ammo as the common Colt AR-15 and M16.

Older AR-15’s can also be purchased in 9mm or 7.62 calibers, but these are getting rare.

You should have a minimum of 500 rounds for your .223 bolt-action rifle, and no less than 2000 rounds of .223 ammo for each semi-automatic rifle.

Once you begin shooting your AR-15 and see how fast the ammo goes, you will see why these amounts are necessary.

Shotgun ammunitions

Shotgun ammunitions pose a problem of a different nature. They do not have a long shelf life because of the non-sealing nature of the shotgun shell which holds the powder and shot in place.

The ammos are subject to fouling over time from moisture in the air, so very special care must be taken to store shotgun shells in a dry, air-tight container such as an ammo can.

Be sure to include a desiccant and store the ammo away from outside walls and concrete floors, which may contribute to condensation.

If stored properly, a minimum of 250 rounds is recommended. Buy 00 buckshot for defense and hunting large game, and #6 squirrel and rabbit shot for small game.

All ammo should be rotated and replaced like food, but more especially shotgun shells, because they are so vulnerable to humidity and dampness in general.

Because of this vulnerability, it would be a better idea to store the individual shotgun ammunition components (powder, primers, shot, etc.) separately in airtight containers and load the shells as needed.

Storing ammunition is like storing food; keep it in a cool, dry place at a constant temperature.

  • Don’t store it in the attic because of the heat.
  • Don’t expose it to solvents or oils of any kind and don’t handle it unnecessarily because of the oils and salt produced by your skin.

Ammunition for a lot of the calibers we have discussed can be purchased in bulk, which will save you a fortune.

Ask around at gun shows or at gun shops for information about companies that will load quality ammo in bulk and ship it to you.

Try to keep the number of different calibers to a minimum. Having several guns that use the same ammo is not a luxury, it is a must. Maintenance is easier, buying ammunition is easier, and reloading ammo is much simpler. Avoid exotic calibers and stick to the basics.

By far the cheapest way to stock ammunition is to purchase the various components (bullets, powder, primers, hulls, etc.) and reload it yourself. Not only does it make shooting a lot cheaper, but ammo reloading is a fun, interesting, and rewarding hobby.

Learn how to do it correctly and only reload at times when you have no distractions so that you can focus on what you are doing. Get a couple of reloading manuals and learn how to do it right. Ammunition reloading is like home canning- if you take short cuts, you will regret it in a most profound fashion.

Clips and magazines

Another question that frequently comes up is in regard to gun magazines, sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘clips.’

A ‘clip’ is a strip of metal that holds ammo in a linear manner in preparation for loading into a magazine.

A magazine, on the other hand, is the part of a firearm which houses the ammunition before it is chambered, and may or may not be detachable.

You should have a minimum of six magazines per semi-automatic pistol, and 10 magazines per semi-automatic rifle.

Magazines are sometimes misplaced or lost in the field, so it is always best to have numerous spares.

20-round rifle magazines are the most reliable, but the 30-round mags are acceptable. Anything higher decreases reliability of the magazine spring-feeding mechanism.

Don’t leave your magazines stored full of ammo because it weakens the springs, which will affect reliability in feeding the ammo.

When loading, leave the magazine two rounds less than full. That helps decrease magazine jam-ups and increases reliability.

Daniel Boone

Do not have the illusion that you will hunt animals such as deer and turkey to feed your family in an extended crisis, living off the land like Daniel Boone.

These animals will disappear from the landscape overnight in a food shortage. If you think opening day of deer hunting season last year was crowded, wait until everyone’s kitchen cabinets are bare.

Remember, you will not be the only guy out there with best survival rifle and an empty belly.

How to Make a 72-Hour Survival Kit

72 hour bug out bag

FEMA recommends that each household prepare a disaster supplies kit that is ready to “grab and go” in case of an evacuation or an emergency such as a terrorist attack, a nuclear incident, a flood, or a chemical spill.

They recommend that this kit (bug out bag) have enough food, water, first aid supplies, tools and emergency supplies to last for three days or more.

Introducing the bug out bag

This bag is also known as a “bug out bag” or a G.O.O.D. bag (Get Out Of Dodge).

This emergency preparedness survival bag is important because if you have to evacuate during a disaster, it may be the only thing you have time to grab as you are leaving.

It may be the only source of food, water, and essentials that you have for a several days. The bag could save you a lot of anguish.

Since you may have to pull up and leave at a moment’s notice, having an emergency preparedness kit already together means you don’t have to think of everything on the spot as you are walking out the door.

It also means that you can be miles down the road while other people are still trying to figure out what to gather up. Sometimes in an emergency, seconds count.

While there are many things that would be nice to have, you must keep the contents of this emergency preparedness kit to a minimum.

You may want to have a bug-out kit for each member of the family to carry. That may increase how much stuff you can take, so make sure that your bug out vehicle will carry it all.

The hall closet, if you have one, is a good place to keep your emergency preparedness bag so that you can grab it as you head out the door.

Pre-packaged bug out bags for sale

Like with pre-packaged survival food, pre-packaged commercial 72 hour bags are less than ideal.

They have always have things in them that you do not need and will never use in an emergency, the quality of the goods may be substandard, and they don’t usually include items that suit your particular disaster preparations.

Instead, put your own emergency preparedness kit together. It is cheaper and will better suit your specific needs in a disaster.

You can use a duffel bag or any large canvas bag to hold the contents of your emergency kit, or you can use a five gallon plastic bucket with a good handle and a sealable lid.

A bucket with a lid can be an invaluable and irreplaceable tool in a disaster. You can use it to carry water or a hundred other things after you reach your destination.

You can also use it with a trash bag spread inside the bucket as a make-shift potty in a disaster.

This is one reason to make sure that your buckets have lids. Lids also keep the emergency preparedness kit together and intact, as well as making the bucket weather-resistant.

Prioritizing your 72-hours grab and go bag

Make a list of all the things you will need to take in your 72-hour kit. Then gather these items and lay them out in the floor, along with the number of buckets or packs that your family will be carrying, one per person.

Now is the time to see if you will be able to haul all the survival gear that you have selected in the emergency containers you have selected.

If not, you will have to make some choices. Be sure and put the lighter items in the buckets or packs which will be carried by the younger members of the family.

One of the first items you must plan for in an emergency is water. Water is heavy, weighing 8.34 pounds per gallon, but you must have it with you in any disaster.

Since the average person drinks two quarts of water per day, pack your emergency preparedness kit with bottled water accordingly and include a water purification filter and water purification tablets (read about water purification here).

A small container of unscented chlorine bleach would be good to have in your 72-hour kit for treating drinking water that you may find along the way.

MRE’S, canned chili, and canned stews are great for the best bug out bags because they require no refrigeration, are easy to heat up, and can be eaten without cooking in an emergency.

They are packed with protein and carbohydrates which you may need in a crisis. Other good choices for your 72-hour kit are peanut butter, granola bars, canned meats such as tuna, and dehydrated soup mixes.

Thirst-inducing supplies

The down side to packing items such as tuna in an emergency kit is that they make you thirsty, and water may be in short supply on your journey.

You could include a small backpacking stove in your 72-hour kit; the space and weight are negligible, and you might be amazed at what a hot meal will do for morale during a disaster.

Canned fruits and juices are good choices for emergency kits because they provide quick energy and, again, will do wonders for a person’s spirits in a crisis.

Just remember that these juices will also make you thirsty if water is in short supply, as often happens during a disaster.

Other good choices for emergency food include chocolate bars and candy.

Don’t forget to pack your disaster kit with a few salt tablets, some forks and spoons, one metal drinking cup per person, and baby food and diapers if applicable.

Above all, do not forget the can opener. In fact, pack a can opener in each emergency preparedness bucket or pack.

Staying warm

Pack some warm clothes, a stocking cap, extra underwear and socks, and good shoes in your disaster kit for each person.

If you have room in your bug out pack, take a sleeping bag or blanket for each person. If not, pack metallic emergency blankets or space blankets.

A set of rain gear for each person would be nice, if there is room in your emergency kit.

Rain ponchos are even better because a small candle held in your lap with your legs crossed can provide a lot of personal warmth under a poncho. Just be careful and don’t melt your poncho!

Include a bar of hand soap, a roll of toilet paper, wet towelettes, and feminine hygiene items in your 72-hour kit.

Bugging Out: The ultimate bug out shelter guide

choosing the best bug out location

People who have been raised in the city tend to fare better by staying in town during disasters.

However, if you are convinced that your dwelling will be untenable during a long term disaster such as an economic collapse, then maybe you should set up a remote bug out shelter.

Here are your options

Option #1: Old farmhouse

One option is to buy an old farmhouse out in the country to use as your emergency bug out location.

It might be a fun hobby to fix it up, and it might be the perfect place to wait out periods of rioting or economic collapse.

One of the best justifications for a retreat is that it can double as a weekend get-away that you can take the family to for memories that will last a lifetime. It can also be an excellent investment opportunity too.

Option #2: Mobile homes and campers

Another consideration for a survival shelter idea would be a mobile home.

As a bug out shelter, a mobile home has several advantages:

  1. It is already electrically wired
  2. Already plumbed
  3. Compactly organized
  4. And has all the conveniences of home.

You can move it in tomorrow, without having to build it yourself or wait for a contractor.

A mobile home also has some emergency preparedness disadvantages: maintenance can be high, quality is questionable, most are energy inefficient, and special care must be taken to prevent frozen/burst water pipes since it may not be used for extended periods during the winter.

New mobile homes are costly considering re-sale value, while pre-owned mobile homes are sometimes affordable.

Option #3: A motor home

bugout motorhome
Bug out motor home

A more versatile survival shelter plan is to have a motor home or camper that you use recreationally and that could also be taken to your shelter location in the event of an emergency.

Your bug out location could have such improvements as a septic tank, a cleared level spot for your motor home/camper, and parking space.

You could just pull in and hook up.

Both the mobile home and the camper have several advantages over building a new structure as a disaster shelter. They are much more affordable than a new house.

There are no building contractors to deal with. There are no building codes to worry about, and no bizarre appraisal hassles that usually accompany bank financing of new homes.

And installation is easy and immediate.

The camper has a few advantages over the mobile home when it comes to emergency preparedness. While mobile homes are usually roomier, it can be difficult to get service personnel to make house calls to remote locations when (not if) repairs or maintenance is needed later on.

With a camper, you can hook up to it with your vehicle and pull your camper to town for service. You can also pull your camper out and sell it when you are finished with it or want to upgrade, whereas a mobile home is more difficult to move and much more difficult to resell.

While a camper or mobile home would not provide much protection from a nuclear threat, they might provide a nice place to take your family in the event of widespread economic collapse and violence.

They would also provide some good family bonding time on the weekends, or a temporary emergency shelter while you work on a more permanent one.

Option #3 What if you are on a tight budget?

If money is tight, consider buying 4-5 acres of remote hunting land. Later you can build a 12×24 building for an affordable price, and a plain shell building gives you a place to stay while you are building more suitable emergency bug out house.

It also makes a nice place to spend the weekends away from the city. You could consider using a hunting lease as a temporary bug out home, but that would be a last resort.

If money is really tight, you might contact friends or family who live out in the country. If they have room for you and your family, you could make arrangements to store emergency food and other essentials at their home for use in a crisis.

You are much more likely to be welcomed if you are furnishing your own emergency supplies and making a contribution to the household, rather than being a burden.

Factors to consider when choosing a bug out location

good bug out locationThere are many considerations when choosing a shelter location. A primary consideration is accessible water, like a spring, creek, or well.

One of your first priorities when choosing such an emergency preparedness location is the availability of water.

A well, pond, or spring-fed stream should be near-by and readily accessible. If not, perhaps you could devise a catch system if you live in an area with sufficient rainfall.

You will certainly want redundant sources of water.

Water can be carried from a pond or stream, collected from rainfall, or siphoned from a well. Any surface water that is collected will obviously need to be purified before drinking.

The shelter should also have accessible firewood and soil capable of growing a garden.

You might consider a remotely located area with the least amount of traffic possible, preferably on a rough old dirt county road. A disadvantage to this remoteness is the increased vulnerability to thieves and vandals when you are not there.

Keep it secret

secret bug out location
Secrecy is key in constructing the perfect bug out shelter

Your shelter should definitely not be visible from the road. Perhaps trees, a winding driveway, or a small hill would be enough hide for your ‘vacation home,’ but it needs to be far enough off the road so that it isn’t worth the trouble to trespassers to walk to it.

Thieves and vandals will quickly figure out that you are not around very often if they can leisurely drive by and see the absence of activity.

Your driveway should be gated and locked. Another important reason to be invisible from the road is secrecy. The key to avoiding trouble during social unrest is to remain unseen.

The less people that know about your bug out spot, the less likely you are to get in a confrontation if conditions deteriorate.

Never forget that the same people who thought it was silly to prepare for disaster will kill you for what you have when they get desperate.

You cannot defend a shelter from a determined group of people, no matter how brilliant your defense plans are or how ‘defendable’ you think your spot is.

Attackers will find your shelter’s weak spot, and every shelter has at least one.

The only way to successfully defend a shelter is to prevent its discovery.

The best way to go about this is to pick an unnoticed parcel of woods, unobtrusively build a shelter, quietly stock it with a few provisions, and keep your mouth shut about it.

The keys to having the ultimate survival shelter are to be quiet and be unseen.

Otherwise, you may fight the traffic and road obstacles only to arrive at your well-stocked shelter and find it already occupied by determined squatters.

Some people feel that instead of being secretive about disaster preparation, you should encourage your neighbors to prepare with you.

That usually does not work. Instead, people choose not to prepare and will then count on you to feed them when the shortages start.

In some remote areas, the local residents will create obstacles on the dirt roads in the event of a temporary breakdown of law and order. Their intent will be to limit access to their area by vandals and roving gangs of looters by cutting trees across the roads and dynamiting key bridges.

The idea is to discourage random trouble-makers by creating a situation where they will have to walk.

Most people, especially thieves, will avoid walking very far and will simply drive elsewhere. Residents in the area of your shelter may have similar plans, so it would be wise to get there with some haste while the roads are unblocked.

Time and distance

Distance and travel routes between your shelter and your home must be carefully evaluated.

A shelter that you can’t reach will do you no good.

Too much distance, and therefore time, makes it proportionately less likely that you will be able to reach your shelter as the situation deteriorates. If the distance to your retreat is too great, it is also less likely that you will visit it on a regular basis for repairs and enjoyable weekend stays.

Some experts say that two to three hours travel time by vehicle should be the absolute maximum that you consider for your evacuation plan.

According to this theory, you should be able to get there on one tank of gas, because in a crisis there may be none available on the road.

Other experts say that your retreat needs to be more than one tank of gas away from a major metropolitan area. This is because the fleeing masses will leave town with at most one full tank of gas, and as the vehicles run dry the people will be on foot, desperate, and knocking on your door.

Ultimately, you will have to find the balance in time and distance that is right for you.


Another consideration for your shelter is how to heat it. The building should have a good wood stove.

Whatever the circumstances that you intend to retreat from, one common factor that you should plan on is being without electricity.

Old farm houses make good shelters because they are less expensive to purchase and tend to be built with at least some self–sufficiency in mind, i.e. water wells, root cellars, etc.

It is worth repeating that one of your first priorities when choosing a location is the availability of water. A well, pond, or spring-fed stream should be near-by and readily accessible.

Root cellars themselves make excellent shelters because the temperature is fairly constant, making it ideal for storing food. They are also easy to heat, and are usually cool in hot weather.

You can modify an existing root cellar or build your own, but make sure and pick a well-drained area. A root cellar is one of the cheapest options yet makes one of the best shelters.


family bug out shelterYour rural shelter should have enough room to comfortably lodge the number of people you intend to stay there, as well as food, water, and supplies, extra clothes, etc.

Keep in mind that you may have to take in and support a number of people that you are not presently counting on, especially if you have been proudly telling your preparation plans to your friends and neighbors.

Close friends and relatives, perhaps with young children, may show up and insist on being allowed to enter, so you had better be prepared to either turn them away by force or make room for them.

In the meantime

It is a bad idea to leave valuable supplies in an unoccupied building because of thieves.

ou might consider renting storage space in the nearest town for items which are not affected by heat such as cooking and lighting equipment, etc.

The problem is that a remote bug out home seldom has conveniently located storage businesses nearby, and over time rental fees can get expensive.

You may also run out of time to retrieve these items.

Here are a few storage tips for your SHTF stockpile.

Survival cache containers

Many people today have cache containers buried near their weekend getaways to solve this problem.

Guns, ammunition, coins, and other such items are among the most popular items for these buried caches.

survival cache containerAs containers, PVC pipe and metal army surplus ammo cans are hard to beat.

The biggest problem with both of these containers is heavy condensation inside the container while underground.

If you intend to cache any supplies, do a trial run first with desiccants and various methods of packing.

Guns and tools should be packed in cosmoline or grease, and ammo should be packed in waterproof plastic bags with desiccants.

Food vacuum sealers would be great for preparing ammo for storage, because the bags are airtight and waterproof. The vacuum sealed bags of ammo with desiccants could then be stored in the PVC or ammo cans and buried.

People who bury caches usually prefer to have several small ones scattered about instead of one big one. That way if one of them is found, all is not lost.

It would be wise to make a map of precisely where your caches are, since there is the possibility that several years from now you may not be able to find the precise spot where they are buried. This would also allow your family to find your caches if you are incapacitated or dead.

Early casualties

Amazingly, there are people who plan to leave their homes in a crisis and live in the public forest on whatever supplies they can take with them.

These people are doomed from the start. The woods are going to be full of other displaced individuals or gangs, and some of these people will not be very nice.

In the unlikely event that you survive the run-ins with other desperate refugees, it is unrealistic to believe that you can survive in the woods like Jeremiah Johnson for any length of time, especially in the winter.

Others believe that a nomadic traveling method is better.

They intend to constantly stay on the move in a van, camper, pick-up, etc. until things settle down.

These people have even less hope than the aforementioned forest people for several reasons.

In any national crisis, fuel will be one of the first and harshest shortages, severely constraining these would-be wanderers.

Additionally, there is no way a person can carry everything he will need in a vehicle. This will probably not be a problem, because in a situation of social anarchy, looters and wandering thugs will relieve this traveler of his vehicle, possessions, and probably his life ;-(

If you think this scenario is unlikely, consider the manner in which travelers and commuters were dragged from their vehicles and mercilessly beaten during the 1992 L.A. riots.

Transportation (Bug out route)

If your plan is to evacuate to a rural shelter, you had better anticipate the crisis deterioration and leave early enough to avoid the traffic problems.

ultimate bug out shelter
There is a possibility that your bug out route will be marred by chaos and pandemonium.

There is the possibility that your route will be blocked by traffic, riots, or the ramifications of the disaster you are escaping from. You should plan alternate routes for such scenarios.

The streets may be clogged with traffic to the point that walking may be the best alternative.

Bicycles also deal well with clogged streets, but they are slow and they can’t carry much gear.

Motorcycles can get through traffic, are faster, but still can’t carry much equipment or provisions. They also don’t require much fuel at a time when fuel may be in short supply.

None of this compensates for the danger posed by irrational vehicle drivers in a crisis who may have very little regard for the safety of motorcycle riders.

You also can’t haul a very big family on a motorcycle.

Try to keep your alternate bug out routes as short as possible.

You must have dependable transportation that will get you through difficult terrain and bad weather conditions.

You will need a vehicle that can carry the number of people in your family and the amount of gear that you are taking with you.

With this in mind, you should have a four-wheel drive heavy duty pickup or SUV, with good ground clearance.

You might consider an older model versus a new one.

Older bug out vehicles tend to be easier to service and maintain because they are less computerized and generally have simpler designs. They are also less likely to be affected by electromagnetic pulse in the wake of a nuclear explosion.

Diesel models have advantages and disadvantages.
  1. Diesel fuel may be more difficult to find in a crisis.
  2. Diesel fuel tends to gel when it gets really cold, requiring a chemical additive.
  3. Diesel engines are also more difficult to start in really cold temperatures.

However, diesel fuel has the advantage of containing more energy than gasoline, so diesel motors provide more power.

They also require less maintenance. But most importantly, Diesel fuel has the huge advantage of storing better and longer than gasoline. That may turn out to be a critical factor in a prolonged crisis where fuel is hard to find.

Keep all-terrain tires that are in good shape on your vehicle at all times, and always have at least a half tank of fuel.

Grab your 72-hour kit on the way out the door.

Bugging out vs staying home: What suits you the most

bugging out

If you live in an urban or even suburban area, one of the first and most important decisions you will face in a disaster is whether to relocate to an emergency retreat or stay at home.

If your family is not at risk from exposure to biological, chemical, or nuclear agents, you may be better off staying at home.

Urban people tend to fare better by staying in town during emergencies, on their own turf where street sense matters. Additionally, manufactured goods are more readily available in town, even in a crisis.

Contrariwise, people who are used to living in the country tend to have a better knowledge of farmland and woods and how to use these resources, including hunting, raising livestock, agriculture, gardening, etc.

If you have been raised in the city, it is a dangerous illusion to believe that you can suddenly flee the city during an emergency and thrive in a farming community.

Staying at a suburban home during a disaster has several advantages.

One advantage is the convenient access to grocery stores, hardware stores, gas pumps, etc.

Though these businesses will be of little use once the shortages are in full swing after the disaster, this access can be very convenient when building an emergency supply of food, water, and supplies beforehand.

For example, you can keep empty gas cans at home and go fill them at the first sign of disaster, instead of storing gasoline at your home. That way there is no messing with gas treatment chemicals and no rotating old containers full of gasoline.

Staying at home means you don’t have to worry about taking all those supplies with you in an emergency, and it means that you will be there to protect your property from looters.

It means you will have access to your own bed, blankets, tools, and all the comforts that make it a home during the crisis.

Staying close to your close friends

By staying put you also have the advantage of having friends and neighbors available in case you need help.

Staying in your home during an emergency can also be an advantage if urban distribution centers receive the first government relief shipments of food and medicines.

A huge advantage to stocking up your home with emergency supplies and staying put is that you will be at or near home when the balloon goes up.

The man going to a retreat may not be able to reach his destination while you are comfortable at home.

If you decide to attempt to travel in the period of chaos following a large-scale disaster, you may get trapped in the gridlock which will occur on the highways heading out of the cities.

You run the inherent risk of becoming another refugee on the road, stranded and separated from both your home and your rural shelter.

You may then find yourself at the mercy of the throngs of frightened and angry people that are sure to clog the highways.

For these reasons, staying at home may be the prudent thing to do in the event of a short-lived, localized emergency.

But what if there is a chemical or biological attack which puts your family at risk of exposure?

What if an economic collapse brings rioting and looting on a massive scale?

We have seen what happens in the aftermath of hurricanes such as Katrina.

We have seen the violent riots that ensue in larger cities when the home town basketball team wins a game.

The violent aftermath of an economic collapse or pandemic will be unprecedented.

Long term disruption of the food distribution system will result in empty shelves at the grocery store. When that happens, people will have no choice but to evacuate the cities as supplies run out.

bug out vs staying at homeRefugees will swamp the residential areas in an ever-widening circle as the crisis expands.

Suburban neighborhoods will be overwhelmed and swallowed up as the waves of scavengers spread from the inner city outward, essentially stripping the countryside as they go.

They are going to be looking for food, and they are going to be looking for drugs.

The veneer of civilization is thin.

If you are prepared with an emergency stock of food and supplies in your suburban home, you have to face the fact that in a crisis people will kill you for what you have.

Don’t wait until it is too late and then decide to become part of the fleeing masses who are hopelessly trapped on the interstate with an empty tank of gas.

Survival Book Review: ‘Alas, Babylon’

alas babylon summary

Review: ‘Alas, Babylon’

Genre: Fiction

RATING: 5 out of 5

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, is the survival fictional story of a nuclear attack on America by the Soviet Union.

Set in Ft. Repose, Florida, the book follows the trials and tribulations of a group of people who are fortunate enough to live in an area with no exposure to nuclear blast or fallout

In fact, the nuclear aspect plays an almost insignificant part of this story.

This is about a small community, cut off from the rest of the nation, and their attempt to survive the shortages and chaos that ensues in the months following the attack.

Meet Randy Bragg

alas babylon summary
Still one of my best fictional survival books

Randy Bragg is a Ft. Repose resident and his brother Mark is a military intelligence officer.

When war becomes inevitable, Mark sends his family to live with Randy in Florida with a telegram that includes the phrase, “Alas, Babylon.” This was their pre-arranged code for imminent disaster, and the telegram gives Randy time to make some hasty preparations.

Alas, Babylon is clever and fascinating.

I first read this book in 1980 and have read it several times since then.

It is still one of my favorite books.

Amazingly, Alas, Babylon was originally published in 1959 and is still in print today. That is a testament to the quality of this book.

The fictional survival book focuses not only on how the people deal with the disaster, but also how they deal with each other in a time of great stress. Sometimes they band together to face the shortages and criminals; sometimes relationships come unraveled.

For the survival-minded prepper, there is much to be learned from this book: timeless lessons in preparation for the aftermath of disaster.

The beauty of this book is that these lessons are universal for almost any disaster preparation: economic collapse, pandemic, war, or any situation that causes long term shortages of food and electricity.

Even though EMP was unheard-of when this book was written, the preparations you could learn from Alas, Babylon would be particularly useful in the event of an electromagnetic pulse attack.

This is not the typical modern post-apocalyptic book, with more attention paid to gratuitous violence than quality writing.

If you can overlook the fact that the material is mildly dated, Alas, Babylon is an entertaining education of which skills and resources will be vital in the aftermath of a disaster.

It is a great book.

One Second After book review

william forstchen one second after

Review: ‘One Second After’

Genre: Fiction

RATING: 4 out of 5

Written in 2009, One Second After by William Forstchen is the fictional story of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States.

The book may be fiction but electromagnetic pulse is all too real.

EMP is created by the detonation of a high altitude nuclear device, and ruins practically anything electronic. Automobiles, airplanes, computers, phones- all will be worthless after an EMP attack.

The book focuses on a small town in North Carolina and how the inhabitants deal with the aftermath of the disaster.

The protagonist is John Matherson, a former U.S. Army Colonel.

One Second After follows him and the town’s inhabitants through the disaster as they realize that the electricity is not going to come back on.

With no television and no radio or phone communication, the citizens of Black Mountain are essentially cut off from the rest of the world and must fend for themselves.

The notable exception to their isolation is the nearby interstate which is a river of wandering people who were stranded when the EMP permanently disabled their vehicles.

Nearly every tool or convenience that uses electronics is ruined. The nation now lives in a world much like the 1800’s.

Money becomes worthless and a barter economy emerges. As the food and medicine runs out, there is hunger, desperation, and roving gangs of criminals. Refugees from the interstate and the larger cities threaten to wipe out what little resources are left.

Difficult choices

Some difficult choices must be made; some people will survive, but many will not.

This is a grim tale of survival, and is realistic to the point of being disturbing.

William Fortstchen did his homework

The dangers and scenarios illustrated in One Second After are an accurate window into what would happen to the United States in the event of an EMP attack, and what it would take to survive it.

The only reason that this book did not get a 5 out of 5 rating is because I did not like the emotional drama near the end.

Still, this is one of the best survival disaster books that I have read in a long time, and it reminds me of the book Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank.

That is a very big compliment.

Building underground bomb shelters

If the extent of your preparedness for a nuclear blast or an electromagnetic pulse is total denial (“It’ll never happen”) and reliance on the government by default to take care of you, you had better think again.

If the unthinkable (SHTF) actually happens, the Office of Emergency Services (OES) will not be able to take care of you or your family.

They are the modern day version of the civil defense system. Their plan is to evacuate large cities, ship the city dwellers to smaller “host communities” and lodge them in local homes, presumably by force.

The plans for feeding, housing, and treating all these refugees are a mystery.

  • The government funding for these plans is tenuous if it even exists.
  • If you live in a large city and have no plan of your own, the plan is to ship you as a refugee to god-knows-where and feed you god-knows-how.
  • If you live in a small community, you may expect uninvited guests in your home, possibly at military gun-point.
  • If you don’t believe that, then go to your local courthouse and ask the Office of Emergency Services for the details on what they will actually do for you and your family after a nuclear strike.

When we called our local courthouse and asked for the OES Director, we discovered that he owns a paint store and apparently does OES work in his spare time.

When contacted, the paint store/OES gentleman was very courteous, but was not the depository of information that we had hoped for.

He told us that the OES plan in the aftermath of a nuclear strike is to basically relocate people from large cities to rural counties. When we asked how the government plans to house and feed these refugees, he referred us to the state office.

That conversation was over.

We then called the state Department of Emergency Management, as directed by the paint store/OES gentleman.

At the state level we were stonewalled with hesitant, vague answers and nebulous information.

We now realize that in all likelihood, our government has no organized or realistic evacuation plan for dealing with the survivors of a nuclear strike.

There is no plan.

But one thing is clear: you had better have your own self-sufficiency plan because if a nuclear attack occurs, you will be on your own for a while.

Factors to consider when building a bomb shelter

If you wish to prepare for the effects of a nuclear weapon detonation, you don’t necessarily have to build an elaborate concrete homemade underground shelters.

Under the right circumstances, a much simpler and more easily built structure might be all you need.

When determining what type of underground bomb shelter to build in order to deal with a nuclear explosion and/or its aftermath, you need to think about three things:

  1. Distance
  2. Time
  3. and shielding.

Distance matters

You will obviously want to be as far away from the explosion as possible. A fallout shelter should not be constructed too close to a potential nuclear exchange target, including major cities.

We personally would consider anything less than thirty miles too close, but some experts feel that a distance of ten to twenty miles is acceptable.

A site that would permit the shelter being built into the side of a hill would be strongly preferred. Avoid areas that are downwind (east, generally speaking) of major cities, because these areas will receive much heavier doses of radioactive fallout.

You need time to stay indoors until the danger of radiation has dropped to an acceptable level. That means you need to have enough supplies stocked to enable you to wait it out.

Blast vs fallout bomb shelter

To properly prepare for a nuclear weapon detonation, you will want either a blast shelter or a fallout shelter.

These are very different structures, designed to give different types and different levels of protection.

Blast shelter

A blast shelter is designed to survive the initial blast of a nearby nuclear explosion, along with the associated pressure, radiation, heat and fire hazards.

It requires special construction and a properly built blast shelter will be expensive. If you live close enough to a strategic target to need a blast shelter, perhaps you should consider moving.

One option is the pre-made and pre-molded fiberglass shelter.

homemade underground shelters This is basically a huge egg-shaped shelter which is shipped to you complete.

When it arrives, you bury the entire shelter in the ground and access it through a ground level hatch-type door, somewhat like the conning tower on a submarine.

The top few inches of the command station is the only visible part of the structure above ground.

The blast cell is covered by roughly eight feet of dirt, which provides radiation shielding.

The shelter’s ventilation system utilizes filters for radioactive fallout, biological and chemical agents, and other contaminants.

12-volt deep cycle batteries run the various life support systems, purportedly for one month without recharging.

The built-in water tank is said to contain enough water for over one month. Capacity is said to be up to ten people. Living space is advertised to be around 1337 cubic feet with 72-100 inches of head room.

Toilets, sink, shower, water filters, water pumps, storage compartments, lighting, etc. are all included.

One of the key advantages is the convenience, ease and speed of installation.

Excavate a hole before the shelter arrives. The blast cell is then lifted off the trailer and set in the hole. After leveling, the hole is backfilled, leaving only a few inches of the entrance hatch above ground.

Another advantage of the blast cell is having all the systems pre-built into the unit: water, sewer, electric, storage, ventilation, radiation protection, blast protection, chemical warfare protection, etc.

The cell has a connector port incorporated into the design which allows you to have an underground connecting tunnel to your house or to another blast cell.

Unfortunately, the disadvantages of a blast cell are difficult to overcome.

  1. Blast cells are very expensive.
  2. Reputable dealers and information are difficult to find.
  3. The shelter is not very roomy, and privacy is lacking.
  4. Backfilling and crushed rock placement must be done very carefully.
  5. Having only one entrance hatch could very well mean that the shelter will become your tomb if the door is blocked from above by a fallen tree or a parked vehicle.
  6. The hatch can be padlocked when the shelter is not in use, but that means it can also be padlocked while you are inside it.

Newer models of blast cells now come with an emergency escape hatch built into the side of the entranceway tube.

This escape hatch is basically a cover that can be removed from inside the shelter so that you can dig your way through several feet of dirt to the surface.

Newer models also come with a hydraulic jack under the hatch to prevent the access door from being blocked from above.

Another problem with this type of shelter is the vulnerability posed by the air intake vent. If someone were determined to flush you from the shelter, it would be relatively easy to pump noxious chemicals such as anhydrous ammonia or gasoline down the vent. The installed NBC filters can only handle so much.

Proper installation will hopefully prevent the shelter from floating to the surface after heavy rains raise the water table. This has actually happened to ready-made shelters countless times, most notably to those in Texas after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Other options

Converting old fuel tanks into underground shelters is one option, and in the author’s opinion, a bad one.

Cutting into a used fuel tank with a cutting torch can get you blown up due to the ignition of residual fumes inside the tank.

That would solve your survival problems in a fraction of a second 🙂

A floor must be installed, and space is very limited. If backfilling is not done just right, the tank will settle and its shape will become distorted and dented.

Additionally, cleaning out a used fuel tank can be dreadful, and the residual smell of fuel can be difficult to remove entirely.

But opinions on this subject vary greatly.

One expert I consulted on this subject told me that he has cut doors into several old 1,000 gallon storage tanks without incident.

He favors old fuel tanks for underground shelters because they are “cheap and easy.” In his experience, these fuel tanks had no smell or dangerous fumes.

Steel culverts

steel culverts bomb sheltersAnother idea is to convert a steel culvert into an underground shelter, but this can be extremely expensive.

A steel culvert is not as prone to get dented because it is stronger, due to the corrugated ribs.

Backfilling still has to be done very carefully, but there is more room for error. A floor still has to be installed, and space is still limited.

A popular option is the concrete underground shelter. You can build it as large and as elaborate as your budget will allow. It can be roomy, sturdy, long-lasting, and gives top-notch protection.

If you can defeat the moisture problems associated with underground concrete structures, this is a great option. If not, you are going to have a dank, musty, depressing hole in the ground where most of your stuff gets ruined by moisture and/or humidity.

A concrete shelter requires steel reinforcement to support the concrete ceiling and the earth above it.

Size matters

The shelter must be big enough to accommodate the specific number of people who will be in it, along with all your supplies.

What will you do with family members and close friends who are knocking on the door once you are sealed inside?

You may ultimately have more people in your shelter than you think, so plan accordingly for extra space and extra provisions.

Your plan should generally allow about 20 square feet of floor space for each person, which includes enough space for food, water, supplies, and furnishings for that individual.

How to survive the worst nuclear fallout in history- A preppers definitive guide

how to survive a nuclear fallout

Many people believe that it is useless to attempt to survive an all-out nuclear strike because the blast will presumably kill everyone and turn the earth into a radioactive wasteland.

That is simply not true.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) states that in one week the radioactivity will retain only 10% of its radioactive strength.

Two weeks following the detonation, the radioactive fallout retains only 1% of its radioactivity.

The survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have shown that survivors of nuclear radiation may only have an increased cancer risk of 15%.

Depending on your proximity to the blast and if you are downwind of it, it should be safe in as little as two weeks to begin going outdoors for an hour each day.

As more days pass, you could gradually spend more time outside.

Pregnant women and small children would need to remain sheltered for longer periods of time, and would especially need to avoid exposure to rain, since it will continue to wash radioactive particles out of the atmosphere for several months after the blast.

Generally speaking, the inhalation of fallout particles should not be one of our greatest concerns, since only the smallest fallout particles are small enough to be inhaled.

Since these tend to stay in the stratosphere longer, these tiny particles have lost much of their lethal dosage through radioactive decay by the time they reach the earth.

Radiation dosage would be increased on rainy days as radioactive particles still suspended high in the atmosphere are brought to the ground, but a greater concern would be exposure to gamma rays and beta particles in the initial hours after the explosion.

Radiation Exposure

The amount of radiation a body receives is expressed in terms of exposure and dose.

Different materials that receive the same exposure may not absorb the same amount of energy from the radiation, so a radiation absorbed dose, or rad, measures the amount of energy which a particular object absorbs, typically a human body.

A rem, or roentgen equivalent man, is the amount of radiation required to produce the same biological effect as one rad of high-penetration radiation, such as gamma rays.

With gamma and beta radiation, one rad of exposure results in one rem of dose.

The roentgen is an obsolete term which refers to the amount of radiation exposure equal to the quantity of ionizing radiation that will produce one electrostatic unit of electricity in one cubic centimeter of dry air at 0°C and standard atmospheric pressure.

The International System unit for radiation absorbed dose is the gray (Gy).

A gray is the absorption of one joule of radiation by one kilogram of tissue.

  • One gray equals 100 rad.
  • One sievert (Sv) equals 100 rem,
  • and one gray equals one sievert in whole body exposure.

In a healthy adult it takes a dose of 100-200 rem of radiation within a short period of time to produce radiation sickness.

The symptoms include:

  1. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Hair loss
  3. Fever
  4. Abdominal pain
  5. Diarrhea
  6. Skin burns and blisters.

400-500 rem within a few days is fatal. If a group of people were exposed to 400 rem over a short period of time, approximately half of them would die.

Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation associated with a nuclear explosion has a greater effect on the cells in the body that actively divide: specifically the hair, intestines, bone marrow, and reproductive organs.

Symptoms of radiation poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin discoloration, and hair loss.

Radiation is often linked to leukemia, various types of cancer, infertility, and birth defects. This occurs because the ionizing radiation damages the DNA within the cells, and therefore their ability to control their rate of division. If the DNA damage occurs in the cells of the reproductive organs, these genetic mutations can be passed on to offspring.

Nuclear Winter

There is also a theory that the dust clouds from fallout and the smoke from bomb-initiated fires could block the sun’s rays from the earth, ushering in a “nuclear winter.”

Since this period of darkness and sub-freezing temperatures would presumably last for several months or even years, plants would eventually die, farm animals would die of starvation, and very few people would survive.

This myth was first purveyed on the public in 1982 by scientists such as Carl Sagan and was very useful in frightening the public into believing that it is absolutely useless to prepare to survive a nuclear strike.

The nuclear winter myth has since been refuted by such noted scientists as Starley L. Thompson and Stephen H. Schneider, authors of “Nuclear Winter Reappraised.”

Both of these fatalistic misconceptions held by some Americans are in sharp contrast to the attitudes of most foreign governments, some of which are continuing to make active preparations for surviving nuclear warfare.

Even the former Soviet Union is reported to have over 350 metric tons of grain stored securely in nuclear fallout shelters, most of which was purchased from the United States.

Milk & Steaks

Cows that live in fallout areas would produce iodine-contaminated milk from ingesting fallout-laden grass and water, so it should not be consumed for at least a month.

These animals would become ill and should not be eaten, but animals which appear unaffected in low fallout areas should be safe to eat.

The time after an EMP is not the time to eat your steak cooked medium rare. All meat in this situation should be thoroughly cooked all the way through.

Mammal organs and clams should not be eaten in radioactive areas because they will have a higher concentration of the contaminants.

Food and water that are exposed to fallout may be salvageable.

  • Carefully clean the fallout off the sealed containers and the food inside will be fine for consumption.
  • Fruits and vegetables can be washed thoroughly and peeled, making the slightly contaminated items safe to eat.
  • Water in covered reservoirs such as cisterns would be safe to drink. In fact, any food or water that is covered and dust-free should be considered safe to use.

Nuclear attack aftermath

Even though it would be possible to survive a thermonuclear strike, it would be a grim existence for a while.

Farmers would be unable to get fuel, fertilizer, repair parts for machinery, and other critical farming supplies.

They would be unable to gather the crops in the field, or to plant new ones. Even if they could, there would be no transportation system to take the food to the cities.

Food would rot on the vine as people in the urban areas starve.

Since a nuclear strike would target most major cities, most of our nation’s medical personnel and supplies would be lost within a matter of seconds.

As the drugs and food run out, riots and civil unrest would quickly follow, regardless of the radioactivity.

Sanitation and water systems, left unattended, would promptly fail, causing diseases which would spread at alarming speed.

Another less severe scenario that escapes most of our attention is the radiation fallout the United States would receive in the event of a nuclear war overseas that did not involve us.

We have already received barely perceptible fallout on several occasions from nuclear testing performed by the Chinese and the Soviets.

If an all-out nuclear war were fought in the Middle East or Asia, some of the fallout would certainly reach us across the Pacific Ocean on the prevailing west-to-east winds.

This fallout would be enough to render milk in the US unsafe to drink, devastating the dairy industry. This is only one example of the catastrophic economic consequences in the US.

The economic impact would unfortunately be compounded by the general public’s complete lack of preparation for the shortages which would be inevitable.

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

electromagnetic pulse

EMP is a surge of high voltage produced by the detonation of a nuclear device in the upper atmosphere.

A warhead for this purpose would probably be detonated at an altitude of 200-300 miles, and would most likely be deployed from a pre-positioned hostile satellite or ship near the US coast.

The resulting burst of electricity would instantly and permanently ruin electrical circuits and microchips, completely disabling almost any electrical device that you can think of.

This would happen because the overpowering surge of electricity in the air would be collected by power lines and antennae and funneled into the electronic components.

It is theoretically possible that one well-placed air burst above Kansas would effectively knock out nearly all vehicles, airplanes, computers, electronic equipment, radio and television broadcasting stations nationwide, as well as the nation’s entire power grid.

Unfortunately, the power grid would be especially susceptible because the electrical lines would gather the voltage in the air, funnel it to the power stations, and blow up nearly every transformer in the grid. Replacing that many transformers alone would take years, since they are all made overseas.

Anything that uses electrical circuits and microchips would be instant junk. Trucks would stop running, and airplanes would fall from the sky.

Older vehicles which are less dependent on computer components may be less affected by EMP. Vehicles made before 1975 with ignitions which are not electronic may not be affected at all.

Almost anything with electrical circuits would be instantly useless if not encased in a hardened metal box, or “Faraday cage.”

Lightning on steroids

Electromagnetic pulse is stronger, faster, and briefer than lightning. The sudden surge of voltage is so great that surge protectors are useless against it, and even equipment that is turned off may be rendered useless.

In fact, most electronic equipment within several hundred miles of a high-altitude nuclear detonation would be affected to varying degrees.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, “The first recorded EMP incident accompanied a high-altitude nuclear test over the South Pacific and resulted in power system failures as far away as Hawaii.”

This was a result of the Starfish Prime nuclear test in space by the US in July of 1962. Street lights in Hawaii went out, burgalar alarms went off, telephone microwave communication links failed, etc.

That same year the Soviets conducted a series of similar high-altitude, high-yield tests which wreaked havoc on electrical systems, even in the vacuum-tubed world of 1962.

Note that The vacuum tubes of the 1960′s were very resistant to EMP; the microchips of today are not.

Today, electronics which microchips run virtually every system that you use to get through the day.

One well-placed nuclear warhead in the upper atmosphere will bring all those systems to a halt in a microsecond.

You won’t hear, see, or feel anything.

Suddenly your cell phone and your computer will go down, and your car will stop running.Shop The Best Deals on Ground Coffee at CoffeeForL

Final Vacation

That brings up an interesting question

What if you are vacationing in Las Vegas, along with hundreds of thousands of other people when the EMP strike occurs?

You won’t be able to leave, because the airplanes and cars will be permanently disabled. You will be stuck in a city that has to bring everything in using microchip technology, including water.

The electric bill to bring water to Las Vegas is $20-$30 million a year. It is a city surrounded by desert, with maybe two days of drinking water on hand.

After that, you will have to walk 30 miles in the heat to the nearest water source- Lake Mead.

Even if you survive that trek through the desert, what will you do then?

In an EMP strike, 92-95% of the inhabitants of Las Vegas will die from the desert heat and dehydration. Similar scenes with lower mortality rates will play out across the United States.

The case of Korea

In 2009 North Korea assembled a medium-range missile with a nuclear warhead capable of attacking South Korea.

That is alarming because South Korea has a vast power grid and is very dependant on electricity; North Korea is still a comparably primitive nation and would hardly be affected by the massive power outages resulting from the EMP destruction.

The blast would level the electronic playing field and make a good first strike weapon for the North Koreans.

The perfect crime

A country using an EMP burst against the US would not have to fear retaliation because the perpetrators would fire the missile near the US coast, sink the ship that served as the platform, and the warhead explosion at 300 miles high would effectively destroy all the evidence.

How is the US going to know who to retaliate against?

Will we even be able to?

It is likely that we would be very busy dealing with the immediate catastrophe that would ensue.

It would be the perfect crime, and Iran knows it.

Iran has written specifically about crippling the US with an EMP device, and is practicing missle launches in the Caspian Sea.

Welcome to 1880

The government is not working on fixing our vulnerability to this threat, because it’s a problem that can’t realistically be fixed.

The nation’s power grid is too fragile, too old, and too interconnected.

In essence, an EMP attack would instantly take us back to the 1800′s way of life. Automobiles would be rendered permanently useless, so the only mode of transportation would be bicycles and horses.

Farmers would have to go back to putting in crops with old fashioned horsepower.

If the grid fails, the food and water distribution system would collapse immediately. The trucking delivery system would stop instantly.

Millions would starve within days.

Anarchy, looting, and riots would be rampant. This would be a terrorist’s dream come true. All you can do is have an emergency preparedness plan to deal with the aftermath if it happens.

Are you prepared?

3 of the most lethal toxins that could be used in SHTF biological warfare


Ricin is a lethal biological warfare agent. It is a deadly poison that is made from the waste left over from processing castor beans (castor bean poison ).

More specifically, it is made from the seeds found within the castor beans.

Ricin can be produced in a powder, pellet or liquid form, but a terrorist attack utilizing ricin would most likely involve an airborne sprayer-type delivery system so that the poison is inhaled.

If inhaled, ricin prevents cells from producing proteins and ultimately destroys the lung tissues. This causes difficulty breathing, coughing, fever, chest tightness, and leads to respiratory failure.

Injection of ricin has been utilized in assassinations, such as the murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov on September 11, 1978.

He was standing at a crowded bus stop in London when an unknown assassin in the crowd stabbed him in the leg with an umbrella which had been adapted to inject a poison ricin pellet under his skin.

He developed a high fever that evening, and held on for three miserable days before dying. Markov had been openly critical of the Bulgarian government on radio on several occasions, and they finally enlisted the help of the Russian KGB to eliminate the problem.

There is no treatment, drug, or antitoxin for ricin poisoning.


Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often-fatal disease caused by infection with Ebola virus, one of the most virulent viruses known.

It is a total nightmare because of the horrible, frightening effect it has on its victims.

Ebola is moderately infectious, but extremely lethal. It was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) in Africa, where it was first recognized in 1976.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “the virus is one of two members of a family of RNA viruses called the Filoviridae.

The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and/or secretions of an infected person. Thus, the virus is often spread through families and friends because they come in close contact with such secretions when caring for infected persons.

People can also be exposed to Ebola virus through contact with objects, such as needles, that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

The incubation period for Ebola ranges from 2 to 21 days. The onset of illness is abrupt and is characterized by fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. A rash, red eyes, hiccups and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients.

As the virus spreads to the major organs, intense systemic pain begins as the body tissue begins to basically liquefy. The blood vessels rupture and hemorrhage.

Copious bleeding internally and from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and other openings is followed by agonizing death from systemic shock and dropping blood pressure.

Ebola incites instant and total panic wherever it appears because of the horrible and brutal death that results.

This makes it of great interest to biochemical terrorists. There is no standard treatment for Ebola infection, only supportive hospital therapy to replace fluids. Some people do survive an Ebola infection, and it is not known why.

Ebola is fatal in 50-90% of cases.


Ebola is not as easy to transmit as smallpox.

Smallpox is caused by the virus Variola major, which is very contagious and very deadly. When the victim coughs or sneezes, the virus spreads to people in close proximity as they breath the airborne virus.

Smallpox is also spread by direct contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing.

The virus can survive for months in infected bedding, clothing, or even dust infected with smallpox pustules.

Tragically, Native American Indians were killed by the thousands during the 1800’s when settlers intentionally gave them smallpox-infected blankets.

Smallpox symptoms begin 10-14 days after exposure and initially consist of fever followed by a rash several days later.

The Variola virus replicates first in the lymph nodes, and later in the spleen and liver.

Before the Variola virus was eliminated (outside of labs) in 1977, it killed over 500 million people during the 20th century.

Two facilities, one in the US and one in the former Soviet Union, are supposedly the only labs to store the Variola major virus, ostensibly in case it was needed for a vaccine.

It is now known that the former Soviet Union did research to weaponize Variola major, combining it with the Ebola virus and equine encephalomyelitis to make even more potent bioweapons.

It is also well-known that the security of such weapons in the former Soviet Union is now in question.

Germ warfare scientists, possibly for hire, are also streaming out of Iraq since the Persian Gulf War, and out of South Africa since apartheid collapsed.

Since it has been eradicated, at least in nature, any cases of smallpox that appear will certainly be due to some form of attack. There is no treatment for smallpox, only vaccination.

Historically, smallpox has a fatality rate of 30%.

Terrorism and Tularemia: Don’t let ’em catch you off-guard

Tularemia, also known as “rabbit fever,” is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis.

It is usually carried by rabbits, ticks, and deer flies, but can be carried by many other animals as well.

Hunters and trappers are at a higher risk for this disease because of the potential for inhaling the bacteria while skinning the carcass.

Tularemia is also contracted from tick bites, eating infected animal meat that is undercooked, and from drinking water contaminated by an infected carcass.

How is Tularemia Transmitted

Tularemia is not spread directly from person to person.

Francisella tularensis is an intracellular bacterium, meaning that it is able to live as a parasite within host cells.

It primarily infects macrophages, which are a type of white blood cell. Since macrophages are an integral part of the immune system, this bacterium then spreads to multiple organ systems, including the lungs, liver, spleen, and lymphatic system.

Symptoms of Tularemia/deer fly fever symptoms

Symptoms may develop up to two weeks after infection, but 3-5 days is the typical timeframe.

Tularemia contracted by inhalation is much more dangerous than if contracted through skin contact.

Symptoms include:

  1. A fever
  2. Swollen lymph nodes
  3. Sore throat
  4. Difficulty breathing
  5. Chest pain
  6. Abdominal pain
  7. Diarrhea
  8. vomiting.

Ulcers (tularemia skin lesions) usually develop on the skin at the site of infection. More severe cases usually develop into pneumonia. Treatment consists of antibiotics, usually streptomycin or gentamicin.

Tularemia is one of the most infectious pathogenic bacteria known. In fact, the bacterium Francisella tularensis is renowned for causing infections among researchers in laboratories at the slightest opportunity.

This trait, combined with the fact that it works very well in aerosol sprayers, makes it a prime alternative for a terrorist with a crop duster or similar device.

A report from the World Health Organization projected a casualty rate of 250,000, including 19,000 deaths, if Francisella tularensis were sprayed on a city of five million people or more.


The Japanese used Francisella tularensis against the Chinese in World War II, as well as typhoid, smallpox, anthrax, glanders, cholera, and a long list of other agents.

The United States did research on it until 1970.

The Soviets have had a longstanding interest in tularemia and weaponized it extensively in their Biopreparat biological agent weapons program.

With that program in disarray after the Soviet collapse, the security of the stored Biopreparat weapons has come into question.

Who has those weapons now?

Preparing for the botulism Bioterrorism Attack: Preparedness is never overrated

Another bacterium which could be used as a biological weapon is Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism.

Like anthrax, botulinum bacteria form spores and go into a dormant phase when not in a host. Also like anthrax, botulinum bacteria do not kill you- it is the toxins which they produce as they are growing that can be fatal.

The Clostridium botulinum spores themselves are not so bad, because they are actually all around us. You unknowingly ingest them every day and they are harmless. The problem is that when they are allowed to grow into vegetative cells, they produce a deadly nerve toxin that causes botulism, and even tiny amounts of that toxin can kill you.

The botulinum toxin (Botox) is one of the strongest poisons on earth, 100,000 times stronger than Sarin nerve gas. One gram of botulinum poison could kill more than one million people if the delivery/dispersal system problem could be solved.

Problem solving

Unfortunately, certain nations which are hostile to the United States are working on solving that delivery problem.

There is now a man-made, respiratory version of what nature has provided.

The good news is that it is a prohibitively expensive and sophisticated process to weaponize the botulinum toxin.

Still, North Korea and Iran are experimenting with it, isolating the deadlier strains of the toxin-producing bacterium and coupling it with a compatible air spray delivery system.

Iran even used botulinum toxin in bombs during the Gulf War.

All strains of botulinum bacteria produce toxin, but some are much deadlier than others.

Symptoms of botulism

Botulism symptoms include:

  1. Double vision
  2. Blurred vision
  3. Slurred speech
  4. Difficulty swallowing
  5. Dry mouth
  6. And muscle weakness.

Later, the muscle-weakening effects move down the body, spreading to the other muscles.

The botulinum toxin kills by paralysis.

It does this by blocking the messages from the nerves to the muscles, rendering the muscles useless.

Since the botulinum toxin is a large molecule and cannot cross the blood-brain barrier of the brain, the victim stays awake and is mentally unimpaired as the paralysis spreads.

Death is usually caused by respiratory failure as the toxin overtakes the respiratory muscles and renders them useless.

Botulism treatment

Treatment consists of an antitoxin made from the blood of horses that have been exposed to the botulinum toxin.

However, the antitoxin only prevents further damage. It does not reverse any muscle paralysis that the botulinum toxin has already caused. After several weeks of treatment, however, the paralysis does slowly improve.

In the event of a sprayed biological agent attack, your best bet is to cover your mouth with a wet cloth, leave the area as fast as possible, and seek medical help immediately.

The antitoxin is available 24/7 through the Center For Disease Control.

Like anthrax, botulism is not contagious.

Preparing for an anthrax terror attack: The preppers definitive guide

Perhaps the most feared biological weapon at a terrorist’s disposal is the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, or anthrax.

Anthrax is a major concern because it is extremely deadly, stores easily, is relatively easy to synthesize, and can be delivered on a large scale killing large numbers of people.

The anthrax bacteria can only survive for 24 hours or less outside a host’s body. The problem with Bacillus anthracis is that it forms spores in this situation, which basically involves a dormant phase with a protective shell. These spores can lie dormant for centuries, then become active again once inside a host.

How does one contract anthrax?

Anthrax can be contracted from the air, from food, and through the skin.

If inhaled, initial symptoms are similar to the flu: coughing, headache, fever, chest discomfort, tiredness, and muscle aches.

Once in the lungs, the anthrax spores “wake up” and begin producing cell-damaging toxins which destroy lung tissue. The lungs then fill with fluids, which interferes with oxygenation of the blood.

From the lungs, the bacteria easily enter the blood stream and the infection then becomes systemic, which is usually fatal.

If contracted through food, usually in the form of tainted meat, initial symptoms resemble food poisoning: nausea, fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, and sore throat.

Later, the abdominal pain worsens and abdominal swelling is noted, along with bloody diarrhea and an ulcerated tongue.

Ulcerations also form along the stomach and intestines where the bacteria spores make contact.

Just as with lung infections, the spores now become active and begin producing cell-damaging toxins which destroy gastrointestinal tissue before spreading to the rest of the body.

If the skin has been exposed to anthrax, it develops small sores that later turn ulcerous. The ulcers eventually develop a black scab in the center.

Inhaled anthrax bacteria is usually fatal, whereas anthrax from food is about 50% fatal and infection from skin is approximately 20% fatal.

Immediate antibiotic treatment is critical before the bacteria begin producing the deadly toxins. This is imperative because even though the drugs kill the bacteria, there is no stopping the fatal toxin once it is produced.

Anthrax is not contagious.

Terrorism & Plague

In its various forms, plague has killed over 200 million people worldwide.

There are three types of plague: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicemic. They are all caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis.

Bubonic plague

In the fourteenth century, bubonic plague, also known as the “black death,” killed over 20 million people in Europe. Yersinia pestis was carried in the blood stream of black rats, and in the fleas that fed on them.

The human victims contracted the bacterial infection from fleas that had bitten infected mice and rats.

Today, bubonic plague is usually contracted this same way. Once inside the host, the Yersinia pestis bacteria replicate in the groin and axillary (arm pit) lymph nodes, causing swelling.

The bacteria then spread systemically. If the bacteria reach the lungs, pneumonic plague can result.

Symptoms begin within a week after exposure and death results within about three days of symptom onset if not treated with antibiotics.

Pneumonic plague

Pneumonic plague is also caused by Yersinia pestis. Infection is usually achieved through the lungs and it is a very contagious, airborne disease. For this reason, pneumonic plague is the form of Yersinia pestis that is most expected to be used in a terrorist attack.

Turning pneumonic plague into a weapon though, would be a prohibitively expensive and sophisticated process.


Very few laboratories have the technical knowledge or equipment to weaponize pneumonic plague, but Soviet laboratories have both.

Biopreparat, the largest biological and toxin weapons program in the world, is the Soviet biological weapons program.

At one time Biopreparat employed 32,000 scientists and staff. At various times, 60,000 to 70,000 Soviet scientists and technicians worked on bioweapons before the Soviet breakup.

It is widely feared that these underpaid Russian scientists who are now leaving the country in a mass exodus will sell their knowledge, technology, and even the toxins themselves to the highest bidder, including terrorists.

Many of these toxins such as anthrax, tularemia, smallpox, etc. are unaccounted for in the disarray and confusion of the Soviet breakup. Ironically, US grants helped fund Biopreparat in the 1990’s through diverted NASA funds.

The Soviets were also less than thorough in the disposal of their bioweapons.

A good example is their disastrous attempt to hide tons of canisters containing anthrax spores on the island of Vozrozhdeniye in the Aral Sea in 1988.

They made a haphazard effort to kill the spores with bleach before burying them.

They were not entirely successful, according to the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. This has been confirmed by Dr. Ken Alibek, the former deputy chief of Biopreparat.

The Soviets routinely tested various other agents such as smallpox, tularemia, typhus, brucellosis, glanders, and plague on the island as well.

Two rivers that feed the Aral Sea have been diverted for irrigation, and it has now lost over half its size. Because of this shrinkage of the Aral Sea, the island is now readily accessible by land.

The connection between Sarin Gas, Aum Shinrikyo, Al Qaeda and the 9/11

Nerve agents (also called nerve gases) are the most toxic and rapidly acting of the known chemical warfare agents. They are preferred military weapons because they are so deadly but decay quickly after initial use and become harmless.

Nerve agents are similar to insect pesticides known as “organophosphates.”

They work much like organophosphates and the types of harmful effects are very similar, but nerve agents are much more potent.

Nerve gases are usually liquid at room temperature.

Sarin Gas

Germany first developed sarin, one of the most noted nerve agents, in 1938 as a pesticide.

Sarin is clear, tasteless liquid that has no odor. It can evaporate into a gas, but it usually spreads slowly in this form.

Pure sarin gas is 26 times more deadly than cyanide. Symptoms include runny nose, watery eyes, small pinpoint pupils, blurred vision, drooling, sweating, chest tightness, nausea, and headache.

The gas would not be difficult to synthesize, but it would require massive amounts and the right weather conditions to be an effective terrorist weapon.

Treatment for sarin gas poisoning

Treatment for exposure to nerve agents such as sarin gas consists of a compound called atropine.

Some soldiers are issued kits that contain auto-injectors of atropine, pralidoxime chloride, and diazepam.

Pralidoxime chloride, also known as 2-PAM, blocks the effects of nerve gas.

Diazepam, or generic Valium, is normally given to patients in order to stop an active seizure, or to curb severe anxiety. It can also be used as a pre-treatment drug for nerve agent exposure, or at the onset of severe symptoms of nerve agent exposure.

Iraq and the Kurds

Nerve agents have never been deployed in warfare, except by the Iraqis in the Iraq/Iran War of 1980-88.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “Saddam Hussein used sarin on the Kurds in northern Iraq during a 1987-88 campaign known as the Anfal.”

It is also suspected that chemical warfare agents were used directly against United States soldiers in Iraq during the Gulf conflict, producing a set of symptoms now referred to as the “Gulf War Syndrome.”

The symptoms included digestive and respiratory problems, fatigue, and severe flu-like symptoms.

Some have postulated the theory that no coalition forces died from the chemical agents because the Iraqis wanted to wound our soldiers, not kill them, since wounded soldiers require more attention and resources than dead ones.

This is not a unique approach to warfare, and is reminiscent of the strategy behind the Viet Cong booby traps in the jungles of Southeast Asia, many of which were designed to inflict horrible wounds on US soldiers without killing them.

Aum Shinriyko

Impure sarin was used as a weapon in 1994 by the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo.

On June 27, refrigerated trucks with spraying mechanisms were driven to Matsumoto, targeting three judges who were set to hear a case against the group.

The plan was to keep the judges from hearing the case.

In the sarin attack that followed, seven people died and hundreds more were injured, including the three judges. The plan worked.

On March 20, 1995, five members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult boarded five different subway trains in Tokyo, each carrying an umbrella with a sharpened steel tip, multiple packages of sarin liquid, and a hypodermic syringe containing atropine sulfate.

The plan was to simultaneously release the gas in crowded subway cars on the different trains.

Like Muslim terrorists, these Aum Shinrikyo members considered murder a religious act, even a holy act, that would bring salvation and a heavenly reward.

They believed that capitalism and America are a source of decay and are enslaving the world, and it was up to the cult members to save the people from this evil influence.

They viewed the people on the trains as capitalistic puppets and instruments of wickedness.

Aum Shinrikyo members were methodically brainwashed using video tapes, sermons, LSD, electric shock therapy, torture, and low-voltage headsets which pass currents through the brain to “implant the correct thought patterns.”

In fact, the members of the cult consumed such massive amounts of LSD that the cult manufactured its own drugs in laboratories.

Aum Shinrikyo means “ all in the supreme truth.” At one time the Aum Shinrikyo cult had over 40,000 members and over one billion dollars in assets, mostly from donations and illegal activities.

They spent tens of millions of dollars on weapons programs, developing the capacity to produce 70 tons of sarin, enough to wipe out Tokyo’s population.

In six elaborate laboratories, they produced phosgene, cyanide, and the nerve agent VX.

They also developed biological weapons, including botulism and anthrax. They bought military hardware from poverty-stricken Russia, including a helicopter for spraying deadly chemicals, and made inquiries about buying nuclear weapons.

Subway Sarin attack

At precisely 8am that Monday morning, the five men placed the bags of sarin, wrapped in newspapers, on the floor of the subway cars and punctured them using the sharpened umbrella tips as they exited onto the platform.

The liquid leaked out and turned to gas, poisoning the unsuspecting commuters.

As the men individually headed for their pre-arranged post-attack rendezvous, one of them began to suffer nerve gas symptoms and injected himself with his atropine syringe.

Twelve people were killed in the Tokyo subways and 1,300 others were seriously injured. Thousands more had lesser injuries. Emergency services were overwhelmed. Hospitals were packed and crowded with the sick and dying victims.

Some of the sarin bags were ineffectively punctured by the men in their haste to get off the train, so the leakage and the effect on the commuters was limited, compared to what it could have been.

The sarin was also crudely manufactured. If the sarin had been properly refined, the death toll would have been in the thousands.

It later came to light that a less pious motive for the attack was involved. Aum Shinrikyo had learned that the cult headquarters was to be raided by the police, and the subway attack was supposed to sidetrack them, making them go after other targets.

In addition, the police headquarters was located next door to the attacked subway station, an added attraction. There was also the hope by the insane cult leader that the attack would be blamed on America, triggering a mutually destructive world war and leaving only the Aum Shinrikyo cult standing.

This time the plan failed.

Two days after the attack, 2,500 police officers raided 25 Aum Shinrikyo properties throughout Japan.

Chemicals, laboratory equipment, and documents were seized.

In the following months, over 500 raids were made against Aum Shinrikyo.

More than 50 children were taken into care, many of them still wearing the low-voltage brainwashing headsets. 400 people were arrested, along with the cult leader.

This was the first terrorist use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Aum Shinrikyo and Al Qaeda

The Tokyo subway attack bears an alarming resemblance to the attacks on America on September 11, 2001.

The Japanese underestimated Aum Shinrikyo, just as America underestimated Al Qaeda.

Both Aum Shinrikyo and al Qaeda hated and resented America. Both were extremely well-funded from donations and illegal activities. Both attacks targeted civilians, and both considered the murder of women and small children to be a holy act that would send them to heaven.

The ultimate preppers guide to biological disaster preparedness

Two of the most feared methods of terrorist attack are biological and chemical weapons. An attack using either of these will likely employ one of two strategies.

Scenario #1: Overt Biological Attack

The biochemical attack may be overt, such as a crop-duster spraying an agent such as anthrax over a NASCAR race crowd of spectators.

There are over 3,000 crop dusters in the United States and each plane can carry several hundred gallons of liquid.

After the 9/11 attacks, defensive measures were enacted to deter the use of crop dusters for spraying biological warfare agents on unsuspecting crowds or cities.

These measures include the installation of hidden kill switches and increased security on the planes. The nozzles on crop duster sprayers are specially adapted to spray large droplets that fall to the ground quickly, maximizing the application of the chemicals on the crops.

Farmers do not want the wind to blow the chemicals away before they reach the ground. This is the exact opposite of what a bioweapons terrorist needs.

A biochemical terrorist needs an aerosol spray that will float on the air for as long as possible, so that it has a higher chance of being inhaled by a victim.

Only when the bioweapon such as Tularemia finds it way into the lungs will it be effective, so it has to float in an invisible aerosol form as long as possible. A terrorist wanting to use a crop duster to spray bioweapons would need to alter the sprayer nozzles to form an aerosol spray.
The actual fatalities from such an action would probably be very few because spraying applications depend heavily on favorable weather conditions, and because extremely large amounts of the agent would be required for effectiveness.

In addition, such an obvious attack would garner an immediate and large-scale response for decontamination and treatment by the government, limiting the scope of the disease.

Thus, the true damage of such an attack would not be its fatalities, which would be comparatively few. The problem would be the response of the public at being attacked with such dreaded biological or chemical weapons.

The full-blown panic that would result would have a devastating effect on the nation’s morale and sense of safety.

The unrelenting media feeding frenzy that would ensue would only exacerbate the terror that would grip the masses, and there would be catastrophic economic consequences if people were afraid to leave their homes in the months that followed the attack.

This is the type of response that terrorists count on by definition, and the devastating economic repercussions could be far-reaching.

Scenario #2: Subtle Attack

A second possible scenario would not involve such an ostentatious display.

If the attackers decided to go for the mortality rate as well as the terror factor, a more subtle and slow-working plan would be initiated.

For instance, instead of flying over the same NASCAR crowd, the attack might consist of sending several terrorists intentionally infected with smallpox or plague to mix with the crowd, spreading the disease to hundreds of people.

The infected people from the sporting event would then return to their homes and spread the contagious disease nation-wide. This would almost certainly be a suicide mission for the infected terrorists, which they have proven that they are perfectly willing and capable of undertaking.

What about biological weapons?

Biological weapons, or bioweapons, are basically weapons that involve bacteria, viruses, or toxins. They are odorless, tasteless, and colorless.

Biological weapons are not hard to produce or deliver, and are inexpensive compared to chemical or nuclear weapons. The effectiveness of a biological weapon can be measured in terms of its lethality, ease in manufacturing, and infectivity.

The most likely biological weapons we will face at the hands of terrorists are anthrax, botulism, tularemia, plague, ricin, Ebola, and smallpox.

Chemical weapons

A chemical weapon is defined by NATO as a chemical substance that is intended for military use to kill, injure, or incapacitate people.

Chemical weapons are simply man-made poisons that are deployed in the form of vapors, liquids, or solids. They are usually odorless and tasteless, but are difficult to produce and deliver in lethal doses.

Chemical weapons are generally inexpensive to produce and can be delivered with missiles, bombs, aerial sprayers, and a whole host of other methods.

They are limited though, by the weather, wind, and their excessive bulk.

Chemical weapons can be made at home using chemicals that are readily available. There are approximately 70 different chemicals that would make suitable chemical weapons, but only a few are likely to be employed by terrorists.

The most likely chemical weapons we will face at the hands of terrorists are mustard gas, phosgene oxime, cyanide, chlorine, phosgene (not to be confused with phosgene oxime), and various nerve agents.

How to prep for a biochemical attack

NBC (nuclear, biologic, chemical) agents in general are difficult to prepare for. However, airtight masks, such as the N95 protective respiratory mask, and suits would have to be obtained, with special care not to purchase obsolete or defective ones.

That raises an interesting question:

How do you know if your new gas mask will actually work?

There is no guarantee that the expensive suit and mask that you paid dearly for will actually work as well as the nice salesman promised. That is assuming that you will even have time to get your NBC gear on when the attack starts.

United States Marines in basic training used to be told: “When you see your fellow Marines falling over in convulsions, you know it is too late to put your mask on.”

That axiom still applies.

By the time you have figured out that you need a gas mask, it is most likely too late. That assumes, of course, that you will have it with you every moment of every day, everywhere you go.

That is simply not feasible.

Since there are very few reliable biological or chemical warfare sensors in our society, it is likely that your first clue will be when the people around you develop watery eyes and start coughing, gasping, choking, and twitching violently. At that point, the gas mask in your closet at home will do you no good.

It may be noted that while these masks would have been handy for the survivors of the September 11 attacks to filter out the incredible amount of fine dust and airborne debris generated by the collapsing buildings, it is highly unlikely that anyone except emergency personnel would have been carrying one. For most people, it just isn’t feasible to carry an NBC mask everywhere they go.

Spend your money on something that is more likely to be used.

  1. NBC masks and suits are also incredibly hot and cumbersome. The suit must be airtight and the mask has to fit very snugly.
  2. They are extremely uncomfortable, which means you are less likely to wear them on a daily basis as you wait for the attack.
  3. The masks have specific activated carbon filters for the specific deployed agent. Visibility in the mask is extremely poor, and the lenses have a tendency to fog up.

Building an NBC shelter is not a viable option, for the same reasons. NBC shelters are also very expensive and very difficult to build properly.

The safe room

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, advises that the best way to prepare for a biological or chemical attack is to assemble a kit of duct tape, scissors, and plastic sheeting.

Choose an internal room, preferably with no windows, as the designated chemical safe room.

The basement is not a good place for your chemical safe room because most chemical warfare gas clouds have a tendency to settle into lower areas, since they are heavier than air.

The plastic sheeting should be pre-measured and cut for each door, window and vent in the safe room.

In the event of an attack, turn off all heating and air conditioning systems and seal your chosen chemical safe room with the duct tape and pre-measured and pre-cut plastic sheeting.

Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide enough air for five hours or more. Since chemical and biological agent applications tend to be of short duration, that should be a safe enough time period.

An even better idea would be to have an NBC air filtration system for your safe room (see Nuclear Shelters). But beware of carbon dioxide poisoning.

Having a food reserve and plenty of water will enable you to stay put and hopefully out of danger. You will need enough supplies to get through the quarantines and empty store shelves which will be caused by the disrupted food supply chain. Thus, general preparedness is the secret to successfully getting ready for a biological or chemical attack.

Away from home

If a biological or chemical attack utilizing an unknown agent occurs while you are away from home, cover your mouth and nose with a wet cloth such as a T-shirt or towel and immediately leave the area.

  • Move against the wind and up-hill as you evacuate. Against the wind is recommended because a sprayed agent will travel with the wind to a great extent.
  • Up-hill travel is recommended because most agents, either biological or chemical, tend to settle in lower areas. There are of course exceptions, such as cyanide, but cyanide dissipates and rises very quickly outdoors.
  • Try to take shallow breaths while in the affected area. Cover exposed skin and try to find shelter.
  • Monitor the television or radio stations, and if public-health officials tell you to stay put for a while, then do so until they say it is safe to move. The air may still be laden with deadly agents.
  • If it does not impede your escape, keep your eyes closed.
  • As soon as possible, remove clothes and rinse skin with as much water as possible. Place the contaminated clothing in a sealed, double trash bag.
  • Flush your eyes with water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as it is safe to go out.


Terrorist attacks can involve chemical agents, commercial airliners, economic chaos, inciting panic, or disrupting the food supply system in a wide variety of ways.

The best way that you can prepare for such disruptions is to have some supplies on hand so that you can stay isolated from the threat and weather the storm until it blows over.

According to former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, “The race is on between our preparations and those of our adversaries. We are preparing for the possibility of a chemical or biological attack on American soil because we must. There is not a moment to lose.”

The best emergency lights and lighting for your survival stockpile

It is impossible to overstate how much we take electricity and light in our homes for granted. With a flick of the switch when we enter a room, we have light.

A wise person will plan ahead for the times when that light switch does not work. Emergency lights and lighting are an essential part of any emergency preparedness plan.

Emergency flashlights

The simplest and easiest source of light is the common flashlight. The purpose of the flashlight should be for use in finding and lighting your lanterns. In this way you save your flashlight batteries which are sure to be in high demand as the blackout days go by.

Your house should have several survival flashlights throughout your home, with many batteries to go with each one. You cannot have too many flashlight batteries.

Keep them in the back of your refrigerator to extend their storage life, but always rotate them, using the oldest ones first.

A commonly overlooked but necessary flashlight item to store with your flashlights is extra bulbs. They are easy to install and they are inexpensive.

Choosing an emergency flashlight

With flashlights, you always get what you pay for. Pay the extra money for the more expensive flashlights. When the lights go out you will be glad you did.

We have wasted countless dollars on cheap flashlights that didn’t work when we needed them, which is frustrating in a crisis to say the very least. We will not make that mistake again.

If you buy rechargeable batteries for your flashlights, you should consider a Solar Battery Charger. You can also choose to buy wind-up flashlights that work very well and solve the battery problem. The problem with wind-up flashlights is that they are a little more expensive.

Always keep a flashlight where it is easy to find in total darkness, because that is usually when you are looking for it. Locations such as nightstand, the top of the TV, and the top of the refrigerator are ideal.

Emergency light sticks

Another item we recommend is an emergency light stick (also commonly referred as glow sticks). It is a small plastic tube that is easily activated and emits a steady glowing light for up to 12 hours, then is discarded.

There is no heat associated with the light because the glow comes from a chemical reaction when hydrogen peroxide is mixed with a phenyl oxalate ester and a fluorescent dye.

The light stick merely holds the chemicals separate until you are ready to mix them together. To activate it, you just bend the stick. When you bend the stick a small glass vial inside containing the hydrogen peroxide snaps open, mixing the solutions together.

The resulting chemical reaction causes the fluorescent dye to emit light.

Putting them in a pan of hot water will make them glow very brightly, but this will shorten the life expectancy very significantly because it uses up the chemicals faster. If you cool the stick down, the reaction slows quite a bit and the light gets dim. This will make it last considerably longer.

Once the emergency light stick is activated, there is no stopping the chemical reaction or the light emission. If you want to save it for later, you can put it in the freezer. That won’t stop the reaction, but it will slow it down significantly.

You can buy them for less than two bucks apiece at a hardware store and they are worth every cent, especially if you have children. Power outages can sometimes frighten children, and glow sticks replace the scariness with something fun to do.

Glow sticks are also handy for use while hunting up the flashlights, batteries, and lanterns when the lights go out unexpectedly.

Emergency lighting tips

  1. Items like emergency light sticks, as well as candles and Bic lighters, are inexpensive and are good to have on hand to give to your neighbors when the lights go out.
  2. Matches are great, but butane lighters and trigger-type igniters are not as affected by humidity and moisture.
  3. Matches should be stored in airtight containers such as Mason jars to keep the humidity from ruining them. It would be a good idea to buy extra boxes of items such as these- they don‘t expire and they will eventually get used.
  4. Lamps, lanterns, and candles are great for emergency lighting, but use them inside your home or shelter with common sense. Houses are lost every year due to these open flame items getting knocked over or setting them too close to flammable materials such as curtains. The slight amounts of carbon monoxide they emit can cause headaches if they are used in small rooms with no ventilation, so in that instance use them sparingly.
  5. Bright red lips and faintness are signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. If this occurs, get outside in the fresh air immediately.

What about kerosene lamps?

Kerosene lamps are a good option too. You can buy good inexpensive ones at hardware stores, or stores such as Wal-Mart.

These lamps will burn either kerosene or lamp oil, and they put out about as much light as a 40-watt bulb.

Lamp oil is merely refined kerosene. It is not as smelly as kerosene and burns cleaner, but it costs a little more. The extra cost of lamp oil is well worth it, but make sure it is approved for use in your lamp.

We recommend buying several of these kerosene lanterns for your home, as well as extra globes and extra wicks.

Be careful when using kerosene lamps. The globe gets really hot while the lantern is in use, and they seem to break easily.

It never hurts to have some extra lamp oil in storage as well. A quart of kerosene or lamp oil in a regular kerosene lamp will give about 45 hours of light. At three hours per day, that is about two weeks, on one quart of fuel!

Aladdin kerosene oil lamps are very popular because of their dependability and the generous amount of light that they provide.

Aladdin oil lamps tend to be expensive, but they are totally worth it.

A gallon of kerosene in an Aladdin lamp will give 48 hours of light, with brightness roughly equivalent to that of a 60-watt light bulb.

However, the mantles are extremely delicate and have to be replaced often, so buy extras. You should also stock extra wicks and chimneys.

Emergency candles

Candles are a good choice; they are a cheap efficient source of light and can be used to heat small containers of food and water, making double use of the flame.

Emergency candles also have no expiration date- they last forever in storage.

Candles are relatively safe. If a candle gets knocked over, it tends to go out. If a gas or kerosene lantern gets knocked off a table, a house fire will be the likely and immediate result.

It is a great idea to store candles in the freezer because “frozen” candles do not drip as much and they burn slower, extending their usage.

Wax candles will do just fine in a crisis, but tallow candles are better. They last longer (longest burning candles), give off a brighter light, and they don’t give off as much smoke.

Emergency candles are a great idea because they have an indefinite shelf life, can burn for 120 hours, and give off strong light. This is another great item to have on hand to give to your neighbors in extended power outages.

Candles also give off enough heat to warm food and boil water. Since they are so inexpensive and so dependable, survival candles should be stored in large quantities in both your home and remote shelter.

N:B Decorative candles are not suitable for emergency purposes because they burn far too quickly.

Camping lanterns

Our favorite emergency lantern is the Coleman propane two-mantle lantern. Though the fuel doesn’t go as far as kerosene, the light emitted is much brighter.

Small one-pound bottles are clean and easy to use and can be interchangeably used with the propane cooking stove.

Additionally, A one-pound bottle will last about five hours if you moderate the intensity. With an accessory called a propane tree, you can use a 20 lb. bottle from your cooking grill to fuel your lantern and your propane camp stove at the same time, which is very nice when the power is out at mealtime.

Coleman lanterns put out a lot of light, almost equal to what you will get from a 200-watt bulb, and the heat which accompanies it can be welcome on a cool night.

You can also stockpile a large number of small or large propane bottles and store them indefinitely.

Coleman also makes a similar model that runs on white or unleaded gasoline, but the gas is messy and possibly dangerous if the fuel is spilled while refueling the lantern. It also doesn’t seem to burn as clean or as well, and the generator in the lantern clogs up and has to be replaced more often.

(The generator is a small tubular part in a lantern. It is a genuine pain in the ass to disassemble the lantern and change this part, especially in the dark.)

You also have to frequently pump air pressure into the fuel tank with a small plunger on the dual fuel model, which can be unhandy. White gas has to be rotated often or it goes bad so you cannot stockpile fuel for this lantern as easily as propane bottles.

A major advantage of the dual fuel lantern, though, is fuel availability, since it can utilize unleaded gas.

Another advantage is that a gallon of gas will give at least thirty hours of light. At three hours per day, one gallon of fuel will last at least ten days, if not more.

You will need to store a lot of mantles and a couple of extra globes for either model of Coleman lantern. The mantels are extremely delicate and have to be replaced often.

Be careful, the globe gets really hot while the lantern is in use. It is a good idea to have several different types of lighting equipment so that you are not solely dependent on any one system.

Cooking in a crisis: Do you need a crisis cooker?

In an extended power outage, one of the most valuable commodities is cooking and heating fuel.

Cooking during a disaster, without an electric or gas kitchen stove, is easy to do if you are prepared. For instance, if you use a wood stove or fireplace insert for heating purposes, it can easily double as a crisis cooker during an emergency.

To come up with an effective crisis cooker, you will need a good set of cast iron pots and pans.

Wood burning cookstoves

Wood burning cookstoves are getting harder to find, but they are very handy during a power outage. While the heat from a wood cookstove is welcome in the winter, it would be most unwelcome in hot weather.

Planning to cook with a generator as your only energy source during an emergency is not a good idea because of the expense and the probable scarcity of the fuel to run it. You may also not want the attention that a running generator will attract in an economic collapse.

What about campfires?

Cooking outdoors on an open fire is relatively safe and is a great way to spend time with your family before a disaster and its ramifications.

It is also a good way to learn how to cook on a campfire. Dig a small pit to build the fire in and stack rocks around the edges of it. Place an oven rack or metal grate on the rocks to hold a frying pan or cooking pot.

Again, you will need a good set of cast iron pots and pans for cooking on an open fire. This is a critical advantage of storing foods in metal cans. In an emergency, you can just open the can and place it on the grate or on a rock near the fire. Since the food is already cooked, simply warm it up and it is ready to eat, right out of the can if necessary.

Dutch Oven as a Crisis Cooker

You can also use a dutch oven, which is a heavy-duty cast iron pot with a matching lid. If you decide to purchase a dutch oven, be sure and get the lid handle, which is often sold as a separate accessory. It is well worth the extra couple of bucks because it is very handy.

Once a good bed of coals is established, dig a shallow hole about the diameter of your dutch oven, shovel a few hot coals into the hole, cover them with about an inch of ashes, and set your food-filled dutch oven in place.

Next, shovel about an inch of ashes onto the lid, add some hot coals, and cover them with a few more ashes as well. It will take practice to regulate the cooking times and temperature, and to avoid scorching the dutch oven contents.

The right time to start practicing your dutch oven expertise is now, not after an economic collapse. Robert L. Ririe has written several good books on the subject of dutch oven cooking, such as Let’s Cook Dutch and Doin’ Dutch Oven.

There are several other options for use as emergency cooking stoves: the propane grill, charcoal grill, sterno folding stoves, or camp stoves.

A propane, kerosene, or dual fuel Coleman stove can be brought inside and used for cooking in well-ventilated rooms, but should never be used to heat a room.

Never use an outdoor grill, either gas or charcoal, indoors for any reason. If an accidental fire doesn’t get you, the carbon monoxide certainly will.

Fuel Choices

An important choice in choosing the best emergency stove, especially for the aftermath of a disaster, is the type of fuel it burns.

Some people prefer the dual fuel model (such as the Coleman dual fuel stove) over the propane because the stove is a bit cheaper and the fuel is quite a bit cheaper. Like the lanterns, the dual fuel stove burns white gas or unleaded gas.

A down side is that you have to frequently pump air pressure into the fuel tank with a small plunger on the dual fuel stove, which can be unhandy in the stress of a crisis.

One gallon of fuel will cook at least 8-10 meals. Another major advantage of dual fuel camp stove is fuel availability.

However, our personal favorite emergency stove remains the propane model. The small one pound propane bottles are very convenient and handy, they aren’t nearly as messy as gasoline, they seem to burn cleaner, and they can be interchangeably used with the Coleman propane lanterns.

Interchangeability of fuel between cook stoves is not only convenient, but can be critical in a disaster.

With the proper fittings you can also use a 20 lb. bottle, like the one on your outdoor grill, to fuel your propane camp stove.

Additionally, you can stockpile propane bottles and store them indefinitely in your emergency preparations, which is a big advantage over dual fuel stoves.

We also feel that propane stoves are safer than white gas stoves because there is less chance of the fuel getting knocked over and catching fire to your home while you are refueling the stove. For this reason, refueling white gas stoves should always be done outside.

Important points to remember when choosing a survival stove

  1. Kerosene cook stoves are a good option for emergency planning because they work well, cost about the same price, and the fuel is easy to find, odorless, cheap, and efficient.
  2. Cooking on a camp stove outdoors is a lot easier if you have a small table, a stump, or something else to set it on. As always, follow safety instructions and have a fire extinguisher handy.
  3. Fuel should be stored some place other than your house because of the fire hazard posed, and because it can contaminate your food and water stores.
  4. Special attention should be paid to storing fuels in appropriate containers. Fuel is critical to your survival and in a shortage, it will be one of the first things to get scarce whether you live in town or in the country. It is hard to overstate the importance of storing fuel for warmth, lighting, and cooking.

We would like to hear your say. Which are your favorite portable stoves for emergencies? Leave us a comment below.