Tag Archives: preparedness

33 Brilliant Non-Traditional Preps


Pick up any preparedness book or visit any preparedness website and you are bound to be inundated with ideas for getting yourself ready for an unexpected disruptive event.  After awhile, the eyes begin to glaze over as you realize that you are reading the same thing over and over again.

The good news is that if so many people are talking about something, it must be true, right?  For obvious reasons, I am going to leave that one alone for now.  Instead, I want to focus on the real life preps from regular folks who are walking the preppers walk.  By that I mean ordinary citizens, not authors, not bloggers, and not individuals that are out to make a name for themselves.

I am referring to Backdoor Survival readers.

As those of you that have been following this website know, to enter most giveaways there is a giveaway question designed to make you think.  Recently, the question asked was:

What is your favorite non-traditional prep? Be specific.

Some of the answers were indeed, great ideas and quite non-traditional. Others, while more commonplace, were preps that are often overlooked and worthy of repeating.  With that in mind, today I share some of the very best non-traditional preps from Backdoor Survival readers.

The Best Non-Traditional Preps from Backdoor Survival Readers

1.  Marbles!  I use them in my wrist-rocket slingshot. They make great ammo, cost little, and are seen as a toy for children, so they are not as likely to be stolen or confiscated. In addition they are of a uniform size and weight.

2.  I used sandbags to create a root cellar in my crawlspace. I could have used wood but didn’t want to attract bugs.  Since it’s above ground, I added a vent off our AC unit in order to cool it. It took nearly 6 months for the ground temp to come down but its very reasonable now in the summer!

3.  My prep that is not in the norm is my daughter’s blankets. I think that if something really happens, a little piece of home will be good for her. She has this specific type of blanket she likes.

4.  A whiteboard and markers. My autistic son will need this to understand a change in his schedule.

5.  Books on herb craft. I love using essential oils but if the SHTF then I would not have access to the oils after a while. So, I am growing herbs and learning how to use them fresh or dry.

6.  Dr. Bonners Castile soap. Because it is one of those items that has multiple uses, you clean everything from yourself (hair, teeth & skin) to your house and laundry. Multi use items are my favorite things to store.

7.  I have a couple of wind-up watches that don’t need batteries and a wind up alarm clock. When batteries run out and cell phones don’t work, there might be some comfort in still being able to tell time.  A solar-powered watch would also work.

8.  Journaling supplies. They will help me vent should the SHFT.

9.  A kindle or iPad for storing prepping info.  It would be impossible to store that many paper/hardback in a  limited space.

10.  Fabric in several types (flannel, cotton, wool etc.) plus patterns, scissors, needles, and thread! I also have a treadle sewing machine and yarn to knit/crochet sweaters and mittens and hats and socks.

11.  Over the years I have purchased many bags of feed for my critters. I save all the bags (they are heavy duty) to use as “dirt bags” to fill with dirt to line the insides of the walls in my home. A bullet will go through a normal wall very easily. A wall of dirt that is from 1 1/2 feet thick to 4 feet thick, depending on how you place them, will make an excellent protector.

12.  Plastic yogurt cups. They don’t have a top but I have saved them any way. They can be used to start seeds, as drinking cups, as candle holders, and many other things.

13.  I have a treadle sewing machine and quilting supplies so that I have something to work on and that can be used.

14. I am the family historian. So if/when you see a safe box in my home, the treasures it holds are my family history (some of which I have written) and family pictures going back many generations. I have hard copies, copies on flash drives and CDs stored in different places and of course in my BOB. Knowing the stories of my ancestors will keep others occupied during those crises times when calm is needed. We do have heroes in our own families. They may not be superheroes, but heroes nonetheless.

15.  My non-traditional prep is an extensive collection of games and kite making materials. Kids will take it fairly hard if something should happen.

16.  My grandmother’s cookbooks. There are a lot of “from scratch” recipes and ways of doing things, right down to how to prepare a chicken from the coop to the table.

17.  Carving tools.

18. My non-traditional item would be my essential oils kit. I know I can use these as alternatives for first-aid, hygiene, and stress relief.

19.  Books on foraging and how to use herbs and essential oils.

20.  My non traditional prep would be getting Lasik eye surgery done. In really bad conditions, eye glasses and definitely contact lenses will be non existent.

21.  I have printed almost every “from scratch” recipe I could find. If SHTF I want to be able to make bread, biscuits and as many other comfort foods as I can.

22.  Fire extinguishers.

23.  Free samples of diapers, incontinence products, saw blades – anything that I can get. I figure that when SHTF, I can find non-traditional uses for these things. Plus, every penny saved can go towards the traditional preps.

24.  Although you should not store drinking water in old milk bottles, I store water in them to refill the toilet tank for at least 3 days-till other arrangements can be set up.

25.  My only non-traditional is the WonderBag that I made for cooking. I got the idea off of the internet and it looked intriguing. I’ve only cooked in it a couple of times but it works great.

26.  I have been collecting board games & card games.  Thrift stores have had a LOT in like new condition with all the pieces & instructions. Also jigsaw puzzles. When the “apps” go out along with the lights, we’ll need some R&R to recover from all the “new” hard work we’ll be doing.

27.  I began collecting crossword and word search puzzles. I also buy pencils at the dollar store every time  go.

28. One of my non-traditional preps has got to be the cloth diapers and accompanying accessories. We have several young adult children (still having kids) in my family and having learned when I was younger to have cloth diapers on hand will be a boon to the young mothers when they can’t get “plastic” diapers.

29.  A French press for making coffee.

30. My non-traditional prep would have to be my walker. I can use a cane as well but my walker would allow me to go further and a bit faster plus it gives me a place to sit and rest when needed and it has a small basket for some additional gear.

31. I would have to say that our non-traditional prepping item would our distiller for water and making alcohol (for barter, of course!).

32. Travel books with lots of pictures, so you can travel in your armchair since there won’t be any more ways to travel.  Also, a world map.

33. My faith and Bible!! Also theology books.

The Final Word

When I am asked where my ideas and knowledge comes from, I typically respond with “anywhere and everywhere”.  Seriously, my knowledge and inspiration comes from a variety of sources: first hand experience, books, online forums and of course, Backdoor Survival readers.

The bottom line is not that I am smarter or more clever than everyone else.  On the other hand, I have taken my passion for preparedness and made it an active part of my life.  There is life on the other side and I want to be there to live it with gusto.

A special thank you to all of the readers that made this article possible.  As always, make every day a prep day!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

How To Survive A Terrorist Attack (VIDEOS)


When horrible events happen, people want to know why. Why was a random group of people targeted to have their innocent day destroyed by violence and terror? Why did the culprit choose that group of victims, that day on the calendar, that specific location? And who? Who was the mastermind behind the event? Who were the members of the group that perpetrated the horror?

This is always followed by the speculation that things are not as they have been presented to us.  Most people in the preparedness world have a very valid mistrust of the corporate-sponsored mainstream media. We look to other sources for our news, and rightly so.

Every time, that speculation includes accusations that our own government is behind it, pulling the strings. Other frequent theories are that the events never actually happened at all and that the victims are 100% made up of crisis actors.

The pursuit of the truth is an important quest. Some journalists have dedicated their entire lives to uncovering the Machiavellian plots of those who pull the strings and it’s a noble and meaningful calling.

And that is why what I’m about to say is controversial and probably won’t be well-received.

Strictly from a survival point of view, it doesn’t matter at all who committed the acts of terror that occurred on 9/11, on the streets of Boston, or on the other evening in Paris. It doesn’t matter whether the shooting at Sandy Hook was perpetrated by a kid with behavioral issues or by operatives with an agenda.

If your focus is preparedness and survival, the most important thing you can be doing right now is learning from these events.

Whether you believe what happened in Paris was at the hands of Muslim extremists waging a jihad or a state-sponsored act of terror to clamp down and take away more freedom, the single most important thing you can take away from this is a lesson in survival.

This article is not a debate about the different conspiracy theories. If you are present during a terror attack, my opinions on the culprit don’t matter and neither do yours. All that matters in those minutes or hours is surviving.

Survival is the focus

Massive disasters happen when people are going about their daily business. People go to concerts, fly to visit relatives, take vacations, run marathons, walk to work, take public transit, and shop at the mall. No matter who you are and where you live, if you aren’t an agoraphobic hermit, there are going to be times when you are part of a target-rich environment.

And if you find yourself in the midst of an attack, the motivation of the people attacking doesn’t matter at all. You are in just as much danger whether the perpetrator is a member of ISIS or a member of a secret government agency. A bomb is a bomb, an AK-47 is an AK-47, and a machete will lop off your head, regardless of the motivation of the person wielding it.

So stop with the accusations and focus on what is really important – your survival.

Think about what you would do in an event like the ones that have taken so many lives and harmed so many people. Thinking through events before they occur is what allows us to act quickly when they do happen. Believing in the possibility of bad things helps you to accept it and move to save yourself and your family, while others stand there in shock, making targets of themselves. It’s time to consider what you would do to survive a terrorist attack.

What would you do if you were swept up in a terror event?

The world has always been populated with those who seek power, attention, and control. Acts of terror are nearly always about one or all of those things. The perpetrators are predators, and the victims are the prey. If you are a target of the first wave of the attack, there may not be a lot you can do about it. If you’re hit in the back with gunfire, if you happen to be on a plane that is hijacked and crashes into a building, if you are going about your business and your location blows up, there isn’t a lot you can do.

But if you are fortunate enough not to be a victim of the first wave, then you can survive. And often, before the first wave occurs, there are minute details that can tell you something is wrong. One of my favorite movies is The Bourne Identity. If you haven’t seen it, despite Jason Bourne’s amnesia, he possesses skills that are ingrained into his psyche. As a former operative, he was trained to be highly observant and to make rapid assessments of what he has observed.

While most of us haven’t been trained as operatives, we can still maintain a high level of situational awareness merely by being observant. One way to develop your skills is to play something called Kim’s Game.  My friend Scott, at Graywolf Survival, used to use the game to train his soldiers in situational awareness. He wrote:

Situational awareness is key to understanding your environment so you can know better both your circumstances and your options. There are myriad examples that could be given but would you notice the bulge (called printing) of someone’s ankle from a concealed weapon if you were asked to follow him to barter for goods? Would you remember enough details of the turn of a path you passed two hours ago to be able to find it again? If you were attacked, would you be able to give a good enough description of the subject and getaway vehicle to have him identified?

Kim’s Game comes from a novel by Rudyard Kipling and is something you can play with your family, any where, any time. Go HERE to learn more about how to play it.

A higher level of situational awareness can help you in many ways, should you be unfortunate enough to be present during an active of terror.

It can help by:

  • Allowing you to identify a threat before it becomes active
  • Allowing you to locate exits and routes to the exits
  • Allowing you to determine sources of cover

If you can identify a potential threat before it exists, you can sometimes prevent an attack or at the very least, you can protect yourself and your family more effectively. A book by Patrick Van Horne and Jason A. Riley describes this as being on the “left of bang”. The left of bang is a term used to describe the moments before something bad happens, when you have an inkling that something is wrong, but you just can’t put your finger on what it is.

The book, Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, discusses how establishing a baseline can help you to identify a threat. (I can’t recommend this book strongly enough.)

A baseline is a “normal” for your immediate environment. Once you have a baseline for behavior in a specific environment, then it’s easier to spot anomalies. According to Left of Bang, it’s the anomalies that should put you on high alert. “Anomalies are things that either do not happen and should, or that do happen and shouldn’t.”  Watch this video with Patrick Van Horne to learn more about positioning yourself to realize something is wrong before a disaster actually strikes.

Acceptance is the first step to surviving an attack

If you don’t realize ahead of time that something horrible is going down, that doesn’t mean that you won’t survive. It’s the actions you take immediately upon the realization that have the potential to save your life. And the first step to that is accepting that a terrible thing truly is happening. In an article called How to Survive Anything in Three Easy Steps, I wrote:

No matter what situation comes your way, the first step is to accept that whatever the event is, it really happened.  This is tougher than it sounds, because our minds are programmed to protect us from emotional trauma.  Cognitive dissonance means that when a reality is uncomfortable or doesn’t jive with a person’s beliefs, that person may opt to believe in something false just to assuage his desire for comfort. Psychologist Leon Festinger, who identified the principal of cognitive dissonance, suggested  “that a motivational state of inner tension is triggered by logically inconsistent ways of thinking.”

If you’re wondering exactly how powerful cognitive dissonance can be, check out Amanda Ripley’s book, The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why.  Ripley, a journalist, covered many disasters of immense scale: plane crashes, natural disasters, and 9/11.  She became curious about the difference between those who survived, and those who did not, wondering if it was dumb luck or if there was some other quality that made survival more likely. She interviewed hundreds of survivors and got her answer.  The ability to immediatelyaccept what was occurring was the quality most of the survivors possessed.

The story that stands out in my mind the most was the one about the people in the World Trade Center on September 11. They described the last time they saw some of their coworkers.  There were many people who simply could not accept the fact that a plane had crashed into the building and that they must immediately evacuate. They gathered their belongs, tidied their desks, finished reports. They didn’t feel the same sense of urgency that those who survived did, because the situation was so horrible that they just couldn’t accept it. Their inability to accept the scope of the danger caused many of them to perish in a tragic incident that other people, who acted immediately, survived.

When disaster strikes, you can’t spend 5 minutes thinking, “This can’t actually be happening.”  It is happening, and moving past accepting that propels you through the first step into the second one.

The people who freeze in a mass shooting have done nothing but make themselves easier targets. Freezing is an innate reaction for some people, but you can train your way through that. Training in self-defense, first aid, and disaster preparedness can help to offset the brain’s neurobiological response that leaves some people paralyzed with fear.

Pat Henry of The Prepper Journal recommends action plan simulations to help you become more prepared for a sudden crisis. He wrote:

When you are out in public, try going for an hour without looking at your phone to start with. Instead, observe your surroundings. Who is near you and who is walking toward you? Does anything seem suspicious? If something were to happen, what would you do and where would you go. Do you know the quickest way to get out if needed? Can you access your concealed weapon if you need to? Imagine what you would do if you were out at a mall with your family and someone started shooting. Where would you take cover? What would be your escape route? What if that was blocked?

When you have a preparedness mindset, you’re a step ahead of those who never even considered the idea that something bad could happen.

Three Courses of Action

We can’t always predict when an attack is about to happen. There might be no indications in your immediate surroundings to alert yourself to the fact that something is going down. You may be blithely unaware until the moment that a bomb goes off or a gun gets fired.

If you find yourself suddenly in the midst of an act of terrorism, your actions should be one of the following:

1) Escape. Get as far away from the threat as possible. This is where your early observant behavior comes in handy, because you’ll already know the escape routes. If you are in charge of vulnerable individuals like children, your first choice of actions should be to get them to safety if at all possible.

2) Take cover. If you can’t get away, get behind something solid and wait for your opportunity to either escape or fight back. This is something else you may have observed when doing your earlier reconnaissance.

3) Take out the threat. If you are armed (and I really hope you are) and/or trained, use your abilities to help remove the threat.

The most important thing to consider here is not necessarily which action you will take. It’s that you will take an action, not just stand there in shock. You can be a victim or you can be a warrior.

In Paris, unarmed hostages were at the mercy of their captors. One hundred people were kept in line by just a few men with guns. Keep in mind that fighting back doesn’t always mean a fancy Krav Maga move that takes down two armed men with one trick maneuver. There are many ways to fight back, and not all of them require physical prowess. Don’t let fear incapacitate you. Your brain is a weapon too.

Are you going to wait for someone to save you or are you going to save yourself? Don’t be a kamikaze, but look for your opportunity. There comes a point in some of these situations in which survival is unlikely. Don’t go down without a fight. These two videos from Mike Adams offer practical tips for fighting back.

You have to train

As a wise friend pointed out, while a plan is important, you have to train to be able to carry out your plan. If you don’t have the fitness level or skills, you won’t be able to accomplish what you’re planning to do.

  • Are you working out?
  • Are you fit?
  • Do you practice your self-defense skills?
  • Are you spending time at the range?
  • Are you comfortable with your firearm in a variety of settings and applications?

If the answers to these questions are not “yes,” all of the planning in the world will be of little avail.

The Goal of Terrorism

The goal of terrorism is to spread panic, fear, and instability. By arguing amongst ourselves, we concede the victory to the terrorists.

After the fact, when we point fingers, belittle the victims, make broad generalizations, and deny the event occurred, we aren’t winning. We’re falling neatly into the plan of the terrorists.

The most important thing you can take away from a horrible event like the one in Paris is knowledge. Don’t lose your compassion, don’t become arrogant in your opinions, and don’t make sweeping generalizations. When you do those things, you become willfully blind to the nuances of your surroundings. Your situational awareness becomes shaded by your biases, which can cloud your observations.

Of course it’s important to learn the truth, but don’t lose sight of the fact that if you are IN a terror situation, all that matters at that moment is survival.

It’s time that we stopped getting distracted. While we argue with each other over which news station is full of hot air (I think we all know the answer to that) or which government funded an attack or if the attack even actually happened, our enemies are busy, too. They aren’t arguing about things like news coverage. They are enjoying watching us chase conspiracies and fight with each other. When we become increasingly divided, we become easier targets.

Have you considered what to do in the event of an attack? Do you have some special skills amd training that will help? Please share your advice in the comments below.

Remember this, my friends:

Right now, someone, somewhere, is making plans to kill you. Does it really matter who when the bullets start flying or devices begin exploding?  Are you arguing over theories, or are you making plans to survive a terrorist attack?

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author ofThe Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

A Quick-Start Guide For New Preppers Who Want To Be Ready RIGHT NOW


When you first start prepping you want everything RIGHT NOW. You look around your home and see nothing but shortcomings. You don’t have enough food, you don’t have a woodstove, you have no secondary water source…that’s it. You and your family are doomed.

You feel a panicked urgency because you’ve learned just enough to know that you are NOT prepared.You know that there are all sorts of supplies that you need, but if you’re like most of us, you’re on a budget. Very few of us can afford to buy everything we need all at once.

Here’s a guide

Stop panicking. Take a deep breath. You can devote yourself to getting prepared without breaking the bank.

So if you have to split up your purchases, how do you prioritize your supplies? How can you create a sensible supply quickly before an impending crisis occurs?

The recommendations in this guide for new preppers will help speed you through the preparedness process. Wherever possible, use items that you already have. Consider this a checklist of what you need and fulfill it as you can. In each category there will be a range of options, including some freebies whenever possible, as well as reading material on the subject.

Please keep in mind, the following doesn’t provide you with a year’s supply of anything. It will get you through most short-term disasters with aplomb, though. Once you have this foundation in place, you can spend time and money building upon it.


Water is near and dear to my heart, so much so that I wrote a book on the topic. (You can find The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide HERE.) I always put water at the top of the list, because without it, you’ll be dead in 3 short days. The need for an emergency water supply isn’t always the result of a down grid disaster. Recently, we tapped into our emergency water when the well pump broke. Some places have had water emergencies when the municipal supply was contaminated by stuff like industrial spills or agricultural run-off. Floods and bad storms can also sometimes cause the water supply to be tainted.

Use containers you have RIGHT NOW and fill them with water from the tap. Put the lid on and stash them away. Don’t use milk jugs or juice jugs for drinking water, but you can use them for sanitation water in a pinch. If you can get your hands on some empty, clean 2-liter soda bottles, that will be perfect. We don’t drink soda, so we have some of the 1-gallon water bottles from the store.

Buy some filled 5-gallon jugs of purified water.  How much you need should be based on the number of family members. The rule of thumb is 1 gallon per person, per day, but you may find you need a lot more than that when you add in pets and sanitation needs. You may be able to find these less expensively, already filled at the store. When I lived in Canada you could pick up a filled jug for less than $10, but California has all sorts of environmental rules that make these containers more expensive here. Another option is the 7-gallon Aquatainer that is designed for easy stacking. (Be sure to put this in a place where the floor can support the weight of a bunch of heavy water containers.)

Have a way to dispense the water from the jugs.  We have a top-loading water dispenser for use in emergencies. These MUST be top loading because the bottom-loading ones require electricity to run the pump.) If you don’t want to make that kind of investment,  you can get these nifty little pumps for about $12.

Get a gravity-fed water filter.  I use a Big Berkey, but it’s a hefty investment when you’re trying to get everything at once. If you can’t swing that, buy Jim Cobb’s Prepper’s Survival Hacks book. It has numerous DIY water filters that you can make without spending a fortune.

Cooking methods

If the power goes out, how will you cook? You need the ability to boil water, at the very least. If you can boil water, then you can heat up canned food or prepare freeze-dried food in an emergency. Here are some secondary cooking methods, some of which you may already have.

Wood stove or fireplace.  If you heat with wood, you’re a step ahead already, at least in the midst of a winter power outage. However, you won’t want to fire up the wood stove to cook in the summer, particularly since you may already be battling the heat without a fan or air conditioner.

Gas kitchen stove.  Some kitchen stoves that use gas or propane can be used without electricity while others can’t. (If you’re replacing your stove, this is definitely a quality you’ll want to look for.)

Outdoor barbecue. If weather allows, you can fire up your propane or charcoal barbecue during a power outage and cook your feast outdoors.

Rocket stove. There are all sorts of little emergency stoves out there which are designed to boil water quickly and without the use of a great deal of fuel.  My favorites are the Volcano 3-way stove and the Kelly Kettle.  You can also make an efficient stove. We made one last week that brought water to boil in less than 4 minutes.

Do not risk using emergency stoves designed for camping, indoors, unless the manufacturer specifically says that it can be used indoors. To do so is to risk fire, smoke damage, or carbon monoxide poisoning.


Emergency food comes in many different forms. The first thing you have to look at is cooking methods, which we discussed above. The food you choose needs to be able to be prepared using the method you have available now, not the one you plan to get in the future.

Another important note is that your emergency food supply should be nutritious. You won’t want to fill up on empty calories when you may be making greater demands of your body. Keep in mind food restrictions, too, because an emergency situation is bad enough without an allergic reaction or intolerance illness.

There are several different ways to create a food supply.

See what you have.  Go through your kitchen cupboards and see what you already have that could be used in an emergency. Things like nut butters, crackers, and other no-cook snacks are great options. Canned foods that only require heating are good as well. Instant rice or noodles can be added to your emergency supply. Group these items together on a special shelf or in a Rubbermaid container so that they are available when you need them. Figure out how long your supply would last your family before you go and purchase more. Figure out what shelf-stable items you need to add to balance out your supply. (Perhaps dried or canned fruit and vegetables, canned meat, jerky, etc., would provide more nutrients and variety.)

Emergency buckets. The very fastest way to create an instant food supply is emergency buckets of freeze-dried food, which require only the ability to boil water to prepare. One caveat: do not go with the cheapest thing you can find. Some of those taste absolutely terrible. As well, they’re loaded with unhealthy chemicals and sodium. If you normally eat very healthfully, then move to MSG-laden freeze-dried meals, you’re not going to feel well at all in an emergency.

My very favorite brand of emergency food is Numanna, found HERE.  It’s surprisingly tasty, contains no GMOs, no MSG, and no Aspartame.  They even have gluten-free products, which is important to my family since we have some pretty severe intolerances. (Here’s my review of one of their products.) These are already prepacked to last for 25 years and are a crucial part of my long-term food supply.

Build a pantry.  Make a list of what you need to feed your family for a month without a trip to the store, and without reliance on long cooking times. (This rules out beans and rice for most people.) Learn more about building a pantry that will see you through a variety of emergencies (including personal financial crises) in my book, The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half Price Budget.


If you live in a cold climate, winter weather during a power outage can be a life-threatening emergency. It’s vital to have the ability to stay warm if the power goes out. Most central heating systems require electricity to run the fan or motors. Here are some options for secondary heat sources if you generally rely on your central heating system.

  • Wood Heat: Everyone’s favorite off-grid heating method is a fireplace or wood stove. The fuel is renewable and you have the added bonus of an off-grid cooking method. Unfortunately, if your home doesn’t already have one, it can be a pretty expensive thing to install.  If you rent, it’s probably not going to be an option at all to add wood heat to someone else’s property. If you have wood heat, make sure you have a good supply of seasoned firewood that is well-protected from the elements.
  • Propane Heaters:  There are several propane heaters on the market that do not require electricity.  I own a Little Buddy heater.  These small portable heaters are considered safe for indoor use in 49 states.  They attach to a small propane canister and use 2 oz. of fuel per hour to make 100 square feet extremely warm and toasty.  A battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm provides an extra measure of safety when using these heaters indoors. If you have a bigger area to heat, this larger unit will warm up to 200 square feet. Be sure to stock up on propane if this is your back-up heat method.
  • Kerosene/Oil Heaters:  Kerosene heaters burn a wick for heat, fueled by the addition of heating oil.  These heaters really throw out the warmth.  A brand new convection kerosene heater like this one can heat up to 1000 square feet efficiently.  When we lived in the city I was lucky enough to have an antique “Perfection” oil heater, which was a charming addition to our decor that was be called into service during grid-down situations.  Click here to read more information about the different types of kerosene heaters that are available.
  • Natural Gas Fireplaces:  Some gas-fueled fireplaces will work when the electrical power goes out – they just won’t blow out heat via the fan.
  • Pellet Stove:   Most pellet stoves require electricity to run, but there are a few of these high efficiency beauties that will work without being plugged in.

If you have no additional heat at all, you can usually keep one room tolerable for 2-3 days.  If the cold is relentless and the outage lasts longer than that, you may need to seek other shelter.  Watch your temperatures. If the daytime temperature in the house dips below 40 degrees, the night time temperature will be even colder, and it won’t be safe to stay there, especially if you have children or family members who are more susceptible to illness.

These methods can help you stay cozier during a storm.

  • Heat only one room.  One year, our furnace went out the day before Christmas. We huddled into a small room with just one window.  We closed the door to the bedroom and used a folded quilt at the bottom to better insulate the room.  If you don’t have a door to the room you’ve opted to take shelter in, you can hang heavy quilts  or blankets in the doorways to block it off from the rest of the house.
  • Cover your windows.  You can use a plastic shower curtain and duct tape, topped by a heavy quilt to keep the wind from whistling through your windows.  Take down the quilt if it’s sunny outside for some solar gain, then cover it back up as dark falls. If you have reason to be concerned about OPSEC (OPerational SECurity – keeping your preps private), use heavy black garbage bags to cover the windows to keep light from escaping.
  • Light candles.  Even the small flames from candles can add warmth to a small area.  Be sure to use them safely by keeping them out of the reach of children and housing them in holders that won’t tip over easily.
  • Use kerosene lamps.  Those charming old-fashioned lamps can also add warmth to the room.
  • Use sleeping bags.  Cocooning in a sleeping bag conserves body heat better than simply getting under the covers.
  • Have a camp-out.  This works especially well when you have children because it adds an element of fun to an otherwise stressful situation.  Pitch a tent in your closed off room, get inside with a flashlight, and tell stories.  When you combine your body heat in a tiny space like that, you’ll stay much warmer.
  • Get cooking. If you have a propane or gas stove in the kitchen, your cooking method may not require electricity.  So bake a cake, roast a turkey, or simmer a soup. You can use it to warm the room while making a hot, delicious feast.
  • Heat some rocks.  Do you have a place outdoors for a campfire?  If so, put some large rocks around the edges of it.  They retain heat for hours.  When it’s bedtime, carefully place the rocks into a cast iron Dutch oven and bring this into the room you’re going to be sleeping in.  Be sure to protect your floor or surface from the heat of the Dutch oven. The stones will passively emit heat for several hours without the potential of a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning during the night.


Another thing that can quickly become dire is personal sanitation. Depending on your situation, you may not have running water or flushing toilets. You need to stock up on supplies to make the best of these situations and keep family members healthy.

  • Baby wipes. You can never have enough baby wipes. Stock up on these for hand-washing after using the bathroom, before and after food prep, and before eating.  They can also be used to wipe down surfaces.  You can learn more about hand and surface hygiene when there is no running water HERE.
  • Cleaning supplies. You still have to keep your home reasonably clean when there is no running water to help prevent illness and disease. You can find some cleaning hacks HERE.
  • Personal waste. You have to have a plan to deal with personal waste when the toilet won’t flush. This article tells you how to make a human kitty litter toilet, a very inexpensive solution to the personal waste issue. Waste must be handled very carefully to avoid the spread of disease and illness.

Here are the items I recommend that you keep on hand for water emergencies:


Lighting is absolutely vital, especially if there are children in the house.  Nothing is more frightening than being completely in the dark during a stressful situation. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest things to plan for, as well as one of the least expensive.

Some lighting solutions are:

Tools and supplies

Some basic items will make your life much easier during an emergency. Here are some things that are essential in the event of a power outage:

If you’d like to expand on the basic supplies, a more detailed list of tools and hardware can be found HERE.

First Aid kit

It’s important to have a basic first aid kit on hand at all times, but particularly in the event of an emergency.  Your kit should include basic wound care items like bandages, antibiotic ointments, and sprays.  As well, if you use them, keep on hand a supply of basic over-the-counter medications, like pain relief capsules, cold medicine, cough syrup, anti-nausea pills, and allergy medication. Particularly important if sanitation is a problem are anti-diarrheal medications. Be sure to have a couple of good medical guides on hand. I like this first aid book, this medical book, and this book of natural remedies.

If you want to put together a more advanced medical kit, you can find a list HERE.

Special needs

This is something that will be unique to every family. Consider the things that are needed on a daily basis in your household. It might be prescription medications, diapers, or special foods.  If you have pets, you’ll need supplies for them too.  The best way to figure out what you need is to jot things down as you use them over the course of a week or so.

Other Stuff

As you continue along your preparedness journey, you’ll find that there are other items that are very important to you. For example, you’ll want to build yourself a bug-out bag for possible evacuations.

And don’t be surprised when this mindset creates within you the itch to be more self-reliant, which means you’ll be adding gardening tools, sewing supplies, woodworking tools,  and other supplies to your stockpile.

Another aspect of preparedness that is often overlooked in the beginning of the journey is the ability to protect your home and family. If you aren’t already of this mindset, the idea of bringing home a firearm can be overwhelming. When you’re ready to learn more about personal protection and home defense, go HERE and read this article.

Add These to Your Library

Hard copy books are excellent references. I recommend that newbie preppers purchase the following to keep them motivated to become more prepared.

You’ve got this!

You’re going to do some list-writing, so grab a notebook and pen.

  • Write a master list. Now, based on this article, go through and write a list of the things that you feel are important for your family’s preparedness plan. Include the things that you already have. Organize your list by checking off the things you have.
  • Organize the supplies that you have into “kits”. I have Rubbermaid tubs labeled with the contents for emergency purposes, sorted into kits for things like pandemic supplies, off-grid lighting, batteries and power supplies, etc.
  • Now write a minimalist list of the first things that you must have for survival. Don’t worry if you can’t get everything at once. Start off by covering all of the bases with a skeleton kit that will get you by.  This list might include some food that doesn’t require cooking (thus eliminating the immediate need for a secondary cooking method), a way to keep warm, water, a kitty litter toilet, and some baby wipes.
  • Finally, write the big list. This is a list of the things mentioned in the article that you want to own. Make a copy of the list and keep it in your wallet so that if you happen by a thrift store or yard sale, you know what you need. As your budget allows, pick up one or two of these items per week. These may be higher ticket items so don’t worry if it takes you a while to get them. You’ve gotten the bare necessities, so these items will just add to your already sturdy foundation of preparedness.

Don’t panic. Start with your basics in each category and add to it as your time and budget allow.

Calling All Preppers

What would you add to this list for those who are just getting started out? What words of encouragement do you have for those who are just beginning? Please share your best beginner prepper advice in the comments below.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author ofThe Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

16 Important Rules Of Survival And Preparedness


Having a survival mindset means you are always ready to take on new challenges, right?  Although I fully believe that new challenges are a good thing, it is sometimes downright frustrating to recognize that prep as we do, we are never really ready.

Part of the disconnect from being totally prepared is having the knowledge that we will never be able to prepare for everything.  As recently as four years ago, we were preparing for the end of the world as we know it and a global economic collapse.  And now?  The flavor of the month is a pandemic, a cyber attack, and the potential for another world war.

As preppers, this leads us down a path of indecision.  Do we continue to add to our preps, focusing on the worst that can happen or do we soldier along, preparing for the more likely nuances of Mother Nature?

This is a decision each of us must make on our own or in partnership with others in our household.  It is not easy.  I don’t know about you, but coming to terms with not being ready for anything and everything is a tough mind game.  SHTF this and SHTF that tends to dominate the landscape whether taking a hike, reading a book, or shopping at the grocery store.

If you too are struggling with the dilemma of not being ready and therefore not being prepared, take a moment to re-focus on these 16 rules of survival and preparedness.  They just might help you come to terms with not being fully prepared.

16 Important Rules of Survival and Preparedness

1.  Skills and stuff are equally important.

What do I mean by that?  Simply that you can have a years’ worth of freeze dried food, six ways to purify water and a well-stocked first aid kit but if you don’t have the skills to defend yourself, the knowledge to find food in the wild, and the ability to tend to serious wounds, all of the “stuff” you own will be of little use to you following a post-apocalyptic event.

2.  You will never go hungry if you have seeds.

Hoard heirloom (non-GMO and non-hybrid) seeds even if you are not currently gardening and growing your own food.  Those seeds, when brought into a survival community, will be worth more than gold.  Don’t worry if you do not know how to use them.  Others in the community will likely have gardening skills and together you can prepare the fields, sow the seeds, tend the crops and bring in the harvest.  But you first need seeds that will reproduce themselves as true, year in and year out.

3.  Community organization with like minded people can and will save lives.

Unless you live in isolation, the bad guys are going to come around and it may be difficult if not impossible to defend yourself on your own.  Not only is there strength in numbers, but members of an organized team will most certainly have a wider variety of skills at their disposal.

4.  Mental discipline and a level head under pressure will prevail when tough decisions need to be made.

When roaming groups of looters show up on your street, or even worse, at your doorstep, they may be tired, hungry and in need of shelter.  What do you do?  Who gets to stay?  How do you decide?  This is just one example of the tough decisions you may have to make in a collapse situation.

5.  Do not underestimate the need to defend yourself in ways you can not fathom in advance.

How will you defend yourself, your family, and your worldly belongings following an apocalypse?  Sure, it is easy to say that you will shoot anyone that comes close but could you really do it?  Moreover, have you thought of alternative methods to defend what is yours such as setting up blockades or no-enter zones?

6.  Wolves arrive in sheep’s clothing.

Trust is something earned and even though it may feel instinctive, be wary.  It is okay to put strangers through some tests and even then, be conservative in doling out trust cookies.

7.  Perceived “good guys” may be bad and perceived “bad guys” may actually be good.

No surprise here. Just be prepared to evaluate, interview and act based upon as much knowledge and gut instinct you can muster. Trust no one until that trust in earned.  Start building your criteria for trustworthy-ness starting today.  Practice your interview questions and learn how to say “no” if you have to.

8.  In every situation there is a moment where you may have the chance to turn the tables.

Learn to take advantage of those moments now, while you can hone your skill at recognizing those opportunities.

9.  No matter how well you know how to do something, keep training and keep learning.

Practice what you know and learn what you do not know.  Read books about life and about history.  Discover how others have responded to adversarial situations, whether in ancient history or as a fictional manifestation of a talented author.

10.  Feelings and compassion count as does the love and support of friends and family.

This is an important point. Without these qualities, the will to go on may be compromised.  A good example of how feelings and compassion play a role in survival is demonstrated in  in Cormac McCormack’s “The Road”.  In the book (there is also a movie), the love between a father and his son is paramount to their ultimate survival.

11.  Grieving is important as is the need to spend personal time alone to rest and recharge.

No one can do it all 24 hours a day for days on end.  When and if the time comes, you will need to take time to grieve your losses and also time to rest and recharge your mental and physical batteries.

12.  When and if the SHTF, total inaction is not going to save you.

To do nothing is to die.  Sorry to be blunt but making decisions and following through with a plan of action will give you at least a 50/50 chance of survival.  Do nothing and you become a target.

13.  Likewise, if the SHTF, There will be casualties.  Be prepared mentally and physically to deal with the seriously wounded and the deceased.

You may feel prepared with a well-stocked first aid kit, antibiotics, suture kit, and a full complement of trauma supplies.  But do you know how to use them?  How do you determine dosages especially when the drugs on hand may be in short supply?  Who gets them and who does not?

And equally important, if people die (and they likely will), what will you do with the bodies?  Bury them (hope you have a strong back and a good shovel)? Burn them?  The ramifications may be horrific but if you are one of the survivors, you will have to have the mental capacity to deal with this.

14.  Take whatever strengths you have and teach others.

Remember that children are like sponges and can be taught survival skills at a very young age.  Take them under your wing; they represent the future.

15.  There are leaders and there are followers. In a healthy society, both are equally important.

No one is more important than another.  The leader is important, yes.  But so are the teachers, the scouts, the cooks, and the laborers.  All are equal in importance within the context of the survival community.

16.  Firearms are not the only weapons you need to survive.

Sure, they help but the most important weapon you have sits between two ears.  Although closely related to #4, using your brain encompasses more than mental discipline.  Learn to think on your feet, read body language, and act decisively.  After making a decision, move forward with resolve but also know that you will not be right 100% of the time.  There will be no time for remorse so just keep going and hope that your next well-reasoned decision will be better.

The Final Word

If you have made it this far, you may be thinking that these rules are not anything new and you have read it all before.  Okay, I get that.

Still, during these troubling times of angst, it is important to remind ourselves that it is okay if you still have a preparedness to-do list a mile long.  It is okay to be less than ready, and it is equally okay to take a break.  This is more difficult to do than you think but it is something you must do if you are ever to resolve this very real prepping dilemma.  It all gets down to having the survival mindset.

Coming to terms with not being prepared may be a hard pill to swallow but when you think abut it, isn’t being a little bit ready better than not being ready at all?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

When The Meds Run Out, These Are The Natural Alternatives That Could Save Your Life

healing herbs on wooden table, herbal medicine

One of the perks of Ready Nutrition is to read books on prepping and natural living and share which ones I like with all of you. Like many of you, I have a natural curiosity about natural medicine and practiced using essential oils and herbs to make my own salves and teas. I am by no means a master herbalist but love learning about the subject.

Cat Ellis, blogger at Herbal Prepper and author has a long-time background in herbal medicine and is something that I believe will serve her well during a time when there is no doctor. I was so excited when she decided to do a book on the subject and she was kind enough to let me interview her about her book, the Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor.

1. Tell us a little bit about your book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine. 

Prepper’s Natural Medicine is the book I wish I had when I first started learning about herbal medicine. It is written for the total beginner, with no assumptions of prior experience with herbs. However, I have a few tips and tricks that even experienced herbalists would find interesting.This book covers all of the basic skills necessary to make herbal medicine, the therapeutic properties of 50 herbs that will grow almost anywhere in the United States, plus provides formulas for how to create your own medicine. Instructions are provided in an easy to read, conversational style, much as I would speak if the reader were taking one of my classes in person. While this book would be of use to any budding herbalist, it specifically addresses concerns that preppers have, especially long term disasters where the option of getting professional medical care is off the table. For example, how would you treat a snake or spider bite? What about anaphylaxis? Hypothermia?There’s a trend to sanitize herbal medicine with claims that “herbs work gently”. And to a point that’s true. Chamomile is a gentle herb that helps with stress and winding down at the end of the day. On the other hand, some herbs are potent analgesics, antispasmodics, and antimicrobials. Some herbs can help stop bleeding both internally and externally. Others help with seizures.This book is primarily a medicine-making book using herbs for one’s primary source of medicine. It is not a gardening, foraging, or a plant ID book. If your survival plan is to stay mobile, this may not be for you. I do have thoughts for a future book to address those needs, though. If you are stocking up on food, water, ammo, silver, and other supplies, then this is the herbal book for you.

In your book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine, you emphasize the importance of having herbs as part of your preparedness plan. What would you recommend as a starting point for beginners?

I would start off with easy to grow herbs, such as comfrey and peppermint- just try getting either of those two not to grow, and herbs that do dual duty as culinary and medicinal herbs, such as cayenne, garlic, ginger, thyme, and sage. These are familiar to most people, which makes learning how to make herbal medicines less intimidating.

In the book, you mentioned that ingesting essential oils has its place. When is that?

Very rarely, and almost never. There are oils which have GRAS status, which means, “General Recognized As Safe” by the FDA as a food additive. The most common use of this is as a flavoring, whether that be in food or in cosmetics, such as lip balm or lip stick. What this normally means is a drop or two of, say, lemon essential oil in a batch of lemon squares. It is diluted across the entire recipe, and most people don’t sit down to eat the entire batch in one sitting.

However, from a therapeutic standpoint, essential oils are best inhaled or applied topically in some type of carrier, like a salve or lotion, as many are irritating to the skin to apply directly. Regular ingestion of essential oils over time leads to complications, like liver damage, and really misses the mark on how essential oil work best.

That being said, a drop of clove oil applied to a painful tooth, or peppermint oil in an enteric coated capsule for intestinal infections and cramping, or a drop of cinnamon oil added to herbal cough drops or an herbal sore throat spray, are good examples of when ingestion has its place. And, of course, in that batch of lemon squares.

My favorite chapter in the book is the herbal first aid kit. What herbs would you consider the most important and why?

It was tough to narrow it down to just the 50 herbs in the book! But, if I had to pick just 10, my choices would be:

  1. Peppermint: This one herb does so many things. Peppermint can settle the stomach, relieve congestion, soothe away a headache, help cool a person’s temperature, it has a pleasant taste, and kids readily take it.
  2. Comfrey: Two of this herb’s folknames are “knitbone” and “bruisewort”. Comfrey helps to knit tissues back together. This goes in my burn care salve, is excellent in a poultice for a sprained ankle, helps the skin to heal quickly and with minimal (if any) scarring. It works so well, that it should not be used on deep wounds, healing the upper tissue layers and trapping bacteria inside. Short term use only as a tea, though. But could be very useful for someone healing from a serious sprain or broken limb.
  3. Thyme: This is your respiratory system’s best friend. Use in teas, syrups, and most importantly, in herbal steams for any respiratory infection, either bacterial or viral. Add to bath water when you feel sick, to benefit from the steam and sooth the entire body, or use thyme’s antimicrobial properties in herbal cleaning products. Blends well with lavender for the same purposes. Thyme can be taken as a tea or syrup for sore throats and general respiratory relief.
  4. Yarrow: Easy to find growing wild, yarrow is known for its ability to stop bleeding. It is taken both internally and applied externally for this purpose. It can also help reduce fever through sweating, and is an anti-inflammatory, making it a wonderful flu herb, chasing away the aches and pains and fever associated with the flu.
  5. White willow: This tree’s bark contains a chemical called salicin. Salicin is metabolized into salicylic acid, which is the origin of aspirin. The active ingredient in aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, a synthesized version of salicylic acid. White willow is much less irritating to the stomach than aspirin, and in my experience, is more effective and lasts longer. If you don’t have a white willow nearby, meadowsweet is a good alternative for your herbal garden.
  6. Cayenne: Cayenne contains capsaicin, which is well known for pain relief by blocking the signaling of pain from the source to the brain. Cayenne is a vasodilator, primarily of the small blood vessels and improves circulation. This is really important for people who are sedentary or diabetic. Cayenne is also anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. It is a primary ingredient in one of my oxymel (herbal vinegar sweetened with honey) recipes, which I use as an herbal decongestant.
  7. Berberine: This is actually a chemical found in various herbs, not an herb itself. Berberine has more uses than can be listed here. It’s top uses are as a local antibiotic, for blood glucose management, to strengthen the gut wall, lowering liver inflammation, and promoting healthy cholesterol and triglycerides levels. A berberine-containing herb can be used for wound powders. Berberine is excellent for throat infections as a spray, though it does have a very bitter taste. It must come in contact with the infected tissue to have an effect, so sweeten it up with honey or glycerin, then thin with water to work in a spray bottle. Some people taking berberine for its blood glucose and metabolic benefits prefer to take theirs encapsulated. Wherever you live in the United States, there is at least one herb that contains berberine that grows in your area naturally. These might include the Amur cork tree (an invasive on the east coast), Oregon grape root (Northwest), chaparral (Southwest), algerita (Texas and southwest), barberry (not a native plant, but can be grown almost anywhere), and goldenseal (endangered, but was native to east coast and midwest).
  8. Echinacea: This herb has been pigeonholed as a cold and flu herb, but it offers so much more. Echinacea is excellent for wound care, and makes a great addition to wound powders. The tincture is slightly warming and numbing, making it perfect in a spray for sore throat spray, or dental infection or wound. Echinacea is an immuno-stimulant, and it can act as a systemic antibiotic at the right dosage. Dosage is usually far more frequent than people expect, all the way up to once every hour. My preference is for Echincea angustafolia root.
  9. Garlic: Everyone needs lots and lots of garlic. This is the posterchild herb for food being medicine. Have your garlic raw, fermented in honey, or cooked, it’s all beneficial. Garlic supports immune function, is antibacterial, antifungal, and is well known for it’s heart health benefits. If you want to stay healthy, eat a lot of garlic.
  10. Valerian: In about 10% of the population, it can have the opposite effect, but valerian helps almost everyone sleep. Valerian also helps with pain, spasms, coughing, and can be used topically for sore muscles. Something to be aware of with valerian is that the dose is really dependent upon the individual. A very small dose may be fine for one person, and the next may need three times that amount.
  11. Mullein: This list needs a good expectorant to round out the list, and mullein is one of the best. The soft leaves from the first year plant are excellent for helping break up stuck phlegm. In the second year, the plant sends up a large stalk with yellow flowers. Pick the flowers and infuse them in olive oil for earaches.

What three points of the book do you want readers to walk away with? What tools would you recommend?

First, herbal medicine works, and works very well, even in serious cases. Herbs aren’t just for gently falling asleep after a stressful day. They can help . Second, while there is a lot to learn in order to use herbal medicine safely and effectively, it is fun learning. This process is enjoyable and empowering, and my book gets you started off on the right foot. And thirdly, the time to learn how to use herbal medicine is right now, while things are still relatively good.

In a long-term emergency, what natural medicines do you think will be needed most?

In a long term emergency without access to a doctor, pharmacy, or a hospital, we will still need to have the ability to treat both acute and chronic conditions. Acute injuries and infections are obvious, and require antimicrobials and analgesics. According to the CDC, however, 1 out of every 2 adults in the United States have a chronic illness, and that’s just based on people who actually go to the doctor for a proper diagnosis.While a lot of preppers are concerned with how to treat a bullet wound, and that’s a valid concern, far more people will require a sustainable source of medicine for heart conditions, diabetes, arthritis, mood disorders, and so on.

We will need:

Antimicrobial herbs: wounds, respiratory infections, and intestinal infections. Several I mentioned above, but I would add clove, black walnut hull, and artemesia for parasitical infections. I would also put special attention toward herbal antibiotics in the face of every-increasing antibiotic resistance. We would need both local and systemic herbal antibiotic alternatives to drugs. Herbs that come to mind as local antibiotics would be berberine herbs, garlic, juniper, burdock, and sage. Systemics are a little more scarce, but sida, bidens, and artemesias such as sweet Annie, cover a lot of ground.

Cardiovascular herbs: In addition to the cayenne, garlic, and berberine, I mentioned above, as well as the yarrow to stop bleeding, I would also add bilberry, hawthorne, and motherwort.

Analgesics: In addition to the pain-relieving white willow bark, we will need additional pain relievers. Arnica is great for join pain, especially from arthritis, sprains, and repetitive motion injuries. Corydalis, California poppy, and Jamaican dogwood is a combination used for severe pain. Black cohosh and lobelia can be infused into an oil and a salve or lotion made from it for muscle spasms.

Anti-diabetics: Diabetes is one of our most common chronic illnesses in the United States. For type two, goat’s rue is the origin of the active ingredients for metformin. A three month study found berberine as effective as metformin.[1] There is some hope for type one diabetics with Gymnema sylvestre and fenugreek, as both help to regenerate the beta cells in the pancreas to help the body start to make its own insulin again. Gymnema is not available in plant or seed form in the United States, so one would have to stock up on the dried herb, and tincture it for both dosage and longer term storage.

You have a new book coming out. Can you tell us about it?

My new book is called Prepping for a Pandemic: Life-Saving Supplies, Skills, and Plans for Surviving an Outbreak, and is available for preorder on Amazon. This book covers a whole range of issues related to pandemics, and is in direct response to emails I received from readers of my blog and my live internet radio show audience.We have had this unique opportunity to observe and learn from the Ebola crisis in West Africa. We have been witness to individuals attack clinics, what happens when medical facilities reach surge capacity, curfews and quarantines, martial law leaving people without food, had the specter of bio-terrorism lingering, and how our government and media control what the public know. The goals of individuals, staying healthy and not dying, are not the same as government concerns, which are maintaining order and suppressing panic. And, of course, we had the tragic case of Thomas Eric Duncan who brought Ebola to the United States by plane, and spread the disease to hospital staff. There is so much to learn from all this that helps us make better plans in case of an outbreak. If there is any positive side to the horrific loss of life in this unprecedented Ebola outbreak, it would be how to better prepare for pandemic threats.

In the book, I cover seven illnesses I believe are the most significant threats to trigger the next great pandemic. This includes drug-resistant bacteria, viruses which have a demonstrated history of causing pandemics, the human involvement of both terrorism and human error, and the conventional and herbal treatment approaches, if any, are provided. The book wraps up with a pro-active section on how to establish a Self Imposed Reverse Quarantine (SIRQ), with resources to learn more about pandemic preparedness.

My Thoughts on Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor

Have you ever wondered what you would do if there were no pharmacy? In the early onset of my prepping endeavors this question plagued me. Dying from illness or infection is one of the most likely ways one can die in a long-term emergency and without the knowledge of medicinal herbs and natural medicine, you could be a world of trouble. This very question was the first sentence that Cat wrote in her book and what I loved so much about the book. From the very beginning, she cuts to the chase and gets to the heart of topic. Throughout the book (and something she mentioned in her interview with me) she listed fifty of the most useful herbs, medicinal uses and recipes to practice. She holds nothing back in this book and uses a layered medical approach to assembling a natural medicine kit.

This book teaches you the how’s, what’s and why’s about creating a natural medicinal pantry. Because Cat comes from a prepping background she uses a common sense approach to emphasize the vulnerabilities of solely storing western medicine supplies including how supplies will expire, run out and the ever-looming antibiotic resistance bacteria in the near future.

The book is easy to read, written in a friendly manner and is packed with information. If I could give this book 10 stars, I would. From start to finish, I absolutely loved it! Cat is a wealth of knowledge and I will recommend this book for years to come. As well, Cat has an equally informative website, Herbal Prepper that all of you should check out!


Tess Pennington is the editor for After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.

How To Build Your Own Perfect Bug Out Bag


For years, my bug out bag has languished in a closet, stuffed to the gills with the gear that I “thought” I might need if forced to flee my home following a disruptive event.  My bag, as precious as it was, weighed over 40 pounds and the zippers were to the point of bursting.  It was full of gear to cover every contingency I could think of.

How did this happen?  Quite honestly, it happened gradually over a period of years.  It started six years ago with my first B.O.B.   That first effort included mostly the basics: fire making supplies, water purification tabs, a couple of knives, TP, a first aid kit, personal items, documents, and cash.  At the time, I thought I was set.  Of course I was wrong.

I Already Have a Bug-Out Bag.  Why Change?

Over the last six years, my knowledge of preparedness has grown exponentially, and with each new month, a light bulb has gone off and another piece of gear added to the pack.  Clearly, it was time for a change.

Why change?  My bag had become a mish mash of items, most of which I would never need.  The bag was too heavy and even if it was not, in an emergency I could not get to its poorly organized contents easily.

This time I wanted to do it right.  Before setting out to reconfigure my bug out bag, I set down some assumptions and goals.

1.  First and foremost, my bug out bag needed to address what I felt were the most-likely disruptive events to occur in my area.  Yes, this would be a subjective risk evaluation but before continuing, I knew it had to be done lest I suffer another 40 pound behemoth backpack.

2.  My B.O.B. needed to be road-worthy.  It had to get me both away from home and back to home, depending on the circumstances.

3.  Since my intent is to hunker down and bug in, this was not going to be a traditional survival bag.  It’s contents would not need provide for my survival needs in the wilderness for days on end.

4.  On the other hand, if my home became unsafe, I wanted to be able to deploy the contents of my bag while making my way to a secondary location for a few days up to a week.

5.  Knowing that becoming sick or injured can prove deadly during an emergency, my primary Bug Out Bag would be supplemented by a separate First Aid Kit (FAK) that could be picked up an toted with me while carrying the B.O.B. on my back. Included in my FAK would be a large assortment of essential oils.

5  The total weight could not exceed 20 pounds.

Once I set down these ground rules, it was easy for me to empty my existing bag and start gathering the goods.

What’s Inside My All-New Bug Out Bag?

The following list represents the items that are currently in my all-new bug out bag.  This is a simple list, organized by broad category, with some links if you want to investigate further.

2 Lifestraw Water Filters
Aqua Tabs Water Purifier
Nalgene Water Bottle

2 Flashlights with batteries
Luci EMRG Solar Lantern
SunJack Light Stick
4 Glow Sticks

Mora Companion Fixed Blade Knife
Tac-Force Folding Knife
100 feet of Paracord
Duct Tape
Sighting Compass
Tasco Binoculars
2 Carbiners
Wire Saw

Fire, Warmth & Shelter
Swedish Fire Steel
Cotton balls soaked in Vaseline
BIC Lighter
Mylar “Space” Blanket
2 Pocket-sized Mylar Blankets
2 Coleman Rain Ponchos
Reusable Hand-warmer Hot Pack
2 Bandanas

Food & Cooking
Flamelite Burn-box Stove
Nesting Cook Pots
GI Can Opener
New Millenniums Bars
4 Mountain House Food Pouches
Kashi Protein Bars

Voyager crank radio
2 Baofeng ham radios

Hygiene & Personal
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Toilet Paper squished flat in a Food Saver bag
Kleenex tissues
Hand Sanitizer
30 Day Supply of Prescription Meds
No Rinse Bathing Wipes
Disposable Razor
Assorted Band-Aids
Personal wipes (“Butt wipes”)

RavPower Solar Charging Panel

$500 cash in small bills
Copy of passports and other important documents

A Quality Pack Builds the Foundation

Something that did not change is the pack itself.  To this day, I really believe in the Rothco Medium Transport Bag.  It has plenty of pockets to organize your stuff as well as straps to keep it secure.  There is room for a water bladder (although I did not use one) as well as plenty of MOLLE for adding pouches of additional items to the exterior.

What I like most about the Medium Transport Pack is its slim form factor.  It is only as wide as my body which means I can pass through narrow passages and hallways without bumping into things.  If you are looking for a new pack, please do consider this one.  For me, at least, it is perfect.  It is tough, sturdy, and just the right size for carrying your bug out gear.

A Word About the FAK (First Aid Kit)

I did include a few bandages in my pack but for the most part, my intent is to tote my Ammo Can First Aid Kit with me.  It is in the car during road trips and back in my closet while at home.  Definitely, it moves around a lot.  And, it gets used.  A lot.

Call me clumsy or accident-prone, but the Ammo Can FAK has become the most used prep I own.  The fact that it also includes remedies and essential oils increases it usefulness.  Want to build one of your own?  Read How to Create an Emergency Ammo Can First Aid Kit.

What Is Missing?

Good question.  At this point I have not added clothing, extra socks or underwear.  Also missing are hiking boots which will already be on my feet or in the car. Also, items from my EDC and personal weapons and firearms are not included (my OSO Sweet pocket knife, Windstorm Whistle, and Ruger, for example).

All that being said, my B.O.B. has some room to spare.  It came in at 17.5 pounds so I have a bit of room before reaching my weight limit.  Most likely I will add a few items but, equally likely, I plan to start a second kit that includes the aforementioned clothing, a sleeping bag, and some amusements and comfort items.  I never plan to have to go to a shelter but if I am forced to do so, I want a separate bag set up for that purpose alone.

One thing for sure.  I am not going to run off and stuff anything and everything into a bag again, willy-nilly style.  This time I plan to use my head and not my wallet, if you know what I mean.

The Final Word

I recently wrote about the The Conundrum of Bugging Out and What To Do About It.  As I did with that article, I struggled today to present useful and practical information without sounding like a sales pitch for buying more stuff at Amazon or at your local outdoor emporium.

Did I succeed?  I hope so.  My intent with these two articles has been to provide you with a roadmap for building your own perfect bug out bag with the emphasis on “your own”.  There is no laundry list of gear that is perfect nor is there one best “SHTF stockpile”.  If that is what you are looking for, you have come to the wrong place.

At Backdoor Survival, I promote common sense, optimism, self-reliance, and a bit of frugality.  I would like to believe my readers are like-minded and have the same core values.  These are uncertain times and who knows what the future will bring.  Let us learn to be safe together.

And that is all I am going to say about that.  For now.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

The Conundrum Of Bugging Out And What To Do About It


Over the past five years, I have seen the concept of bugging out escalate to the realm of ridiculousness.  Much of this, in my opinion, has come from the commercialization of bug out bags, the glamorization of bug-out preps in the media and within entertainment circles, and, quite simply, blogging sites that promote bug out strategies as part of their down and dirty fear mongering to get you to purchase over-priced info-products or survival gear.

Circling back, bugging out has its place as I will explain in a moment.  But for 99% of the disruptive events out there, my vote is to stay put and hunker down in the comfort of your home, surrounded by your preps.

Still, in spite of my personal feelings on the matter, we still need to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.  There are questions we must ask and answer in advance:

When should we bug out?

What should we take with us?

What if we have inadequate means of transportation to get away?

These are just a few of the questions that make up what I call the conundrum of bugging out.

Why Bug Out?

The main reason we need to be prepared to bug out is that at a moment’s notice, our homes could become unsafe.  Starting out with the laundry list of predictable disasters such as hurricanes, wild fires, flash flood, winter storms, pandemic, and more, finding a safe haven out of harm’s way is just good, common sense.

Not so easy are the unpredictable disasters such as an earthquake, tornado, chemical spill, nuclear implosion and terrorist attacks.  There are others but you get the point.

Regardless of where you live, the risk of a potential disaster will always be there and so we must be prepared to bug out.  That said, bugging out should be a solution of last resort; something you do when harm is headed your way and it is no longer safe to stay at home.

Risk Assessment:  When to Bug Out

Sorting out when to stay and when to leave is part of the risk assessment we should all do in advance.  As a matter of fact, risk assessment should be a key component of our preps, and one that should be revisited periodically.  This is especially true when it comes to sorting out whether to bug out or hunker down.

You might be asking what exactly do I mean by risk assessment.  By way of explanation, businesses and insurance companies use the term risk management to describe “the identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks”.   As a prepper, you will be ahead of the curve if you start out by doing the following:

  • Evaluate what types of disaster or crisis may occur in your area or in your life
  • Perform a walk-around inventory of your home in order to identify areas that would be damaged if there were a natural disaster or other disruptive event.  Take steps to mitigate damage if a disaster should occur
  • Examine your financial resources and evaluate how long you could survive without an income from your job or other sources
  • Develop an evacuation plan in the event your home or your immediate area becomes unsafe

Bug Out Basics: Three Important Steps

After assessing your risks, there are some additional steps to becoming bug-out ready.

Step 1:  Have someplace to go to.

The first is that you have someplace to go to.  Identifying where you will go to is one of the most overlooked aspects of preparedness.  Not everyone has the financial resources, time, or physical acumen to prepare a remote retreat out in the rural boondocks.  For them, the idea of doing so is more of an impossible dream than anything else.

Likewise, grabbing your bug-out bag and emergency supplies and heading for the hills, perhaps even on foot, is more of a Hollywood script than reality.  Surviving in the wilderness while foraging for food and water is a disaster of its own making unless you are well versed in outdoor living.  The truth is that most of us are creatures of comfort and would not last very long on our own.

A better option is to identify in advance friends and relatives that will be willing to take you in in the event that life becomes untenable where you live.

If that is not possible, finding shelter at a school or church is a possibility although not optimal given the hoards that may be competing for an empty cot and a bottle of fresh water.  A final choice, and one that I personally plan to avoid, is a trip to Camp FEMA where you will subject to the whims of government inspection and rule.  On the other hand, for many that will be the only choice.

Step 2:  Know when to go.

The second step needed to become bug-out ready is to know when to go.  Run through this exercise in advance knowing that the plan is written in pencil but a plan none-the-less.

Will you wait for authorities to tell you to leave or will you leave in advance?  Or will you, as an example, leave when a CAT4 hurricane is being forecast?  The answer to these questions will find their foundation in your existing preps as well as how well you were able to pre-determine somewhere to go to.

Step 3:  Prepare your bug-out bag and emergency kit

In this step, you will take the information from your risk assessment coupled with the knowledge of “where you will go” and fill your bug out bag with what you need to get there.

Bugging out to your brother-in-law’s well stocked place in the mountains is a far cry from going to a shelter.  Other than personal items, the components of your bug-out bag may be very different given these two situations.  Do you see where I am headed here?  It might make sense to have a basic, foundation kit as well as smaller kits that are risk and destination specific.

Here is another way to look at it.  If you work outside the home, there is a likelihood that you have a “get home” kit at the office that you will use to make your way back home if a disaster strikes during work hours.  Your vehicle may also have its own kit that will be put into action if you get stranded on the road somewhere.  Both of these examples are subsets of your main kit.

What I propose is that for various scenarios, you have additional kits.  Using the same example, if you are headed to the BIL’s stocked retreat, you probably will need just a modest kit.

The Foundation Bug Out Bag

A term I have used in this article is “foundation kit”.  This is your basic bug out bag containing everything you need to survive for a short period.  It should include basic emergency gear such as a radio, light source, cordage/paracord, knife and fire making tools and water.  Remember, this is not the 100 pound gorilla that you will use to set up camp in the wilderness!

The exact contents of the foundation bug out bag will vary from person to person. It is, however, is a topic that is frequently requested and so I plan to share the contents of my own kit with you next week.  As with my FAK (first aid kit), my B.O.B. was recently reworked to include the items I felt were most suitable for my needs and the risks I might face given where I live and my lifestyle.

It is not a kit that was was put together using a generic list compiled by some anonymous author in an eBook.  To that point, there are tons of  eBooks out there on how to put together a B.O.B. and other kits.  In my opinion, however, many are quite impractical given that for most of us, heading for the woods to live is a least likely scenario. Heading out of the city to a safer location shared with friends or relatives is much more likely so if that describes you, plan for that.

Finally, lest you forget, when putting your Bug Out Bag together, you should start with an honest evaluation of your financial resources.  I know this is difficult, and with the rise in our cost of living (food, fuel, healthcare, taxes), it is sometimes easier to just get by day to day and not think about the financial impact of a disaster or of sudden economic woes.

Face the reality of your financial resources head on, then plan accordingly  but do plan.  Doing so will ensure your survival if or when a disruptive event really happens.

Resolving the Dilemma of Bugging Out By Bugging In

Bugging out poses a major dilemma for many preppers. Family obligations, money, jobs, and health considerations all play a role in the bug-out, bug-in decision.  So what do I think?

At the end of the day, I honestly I believe bugging in is preferable to bugging out if circumstances allow you to do so.  By bugging in and hunkering down, you have the benefits of familiarity, not having to traverse treacherous circumstances to get to your retreat, and your supplies are right there at hand.

That being said, the best way to practice bugging in is to take a weekend and have a “no-power, no-water” drill. During this drill, take notes so that you can see what holes in your preps need to be addressed. It goes with out saying that it is much better to realize a shortcoming now than when you are dependent upon your supplies for survival.   


The Final Word

The focus today has not been on the specific contents of a bug out bag and a corresponding list of things to buy.  Instead, my hope was to give you the incentive and motivation to think about your risks and plan for your needs in a rational, unemotional matter.

Start with these questions:

What do you need to put in place in order to hunker down?

What conditions would require you to bug out?

If there were a natural disaster, what are the proximity of friends and neighbors to help?

Would Camp FEMA be a bad thing?

By answering these questions honestly and realistically, you will be well on your way to creating a both a bug-out and a bug-in plan that works for you and your family.  At the end of the day, isn’t that what matters?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

The Top 50 Non-Food Stockpile Necessities


Be honest. When you think about a stockpile, the first thing that comes to mind is food, right?

Preppers are well-known for having a stash of long-term food to sustain them through anything from a winter storm that leaves them stranded for a week to the end of the world, but there’s a lot more to a good stockpile than edible items.  Think about the things you use on a regular basis that you purchase from the store. Personal hygiene items, school supplies, cleaning supplies – the list goes on and on of consumable goods that you use without really thinking about it.

Ever since my kids were little, I’ve always kept a stockpile of these types of goods. And there have been occasions in my life that I was very grateful to have them on hand.  When I was unemployed for a few months, I didn’t have to run to the store to get day-to-day items, nor did I have to do without. I was able to simply go shopping in the pantry and meet my family’s needs. Because of this, we survived a stressful situation without the added stress of not having the things we needed to live comfortably.

How to get a good deal on non-food stockpile items

Shopping for non-food stockpile items is much like shopping for your grocery stockpile. It’s essential that you get the best deal you can. If the deal is really epic, sometimes I stock up on brands that we don’t really use so that I have some items on hand for a friend who may have fallen on hard times. A gift of health-and-beauty supplies would be very welcome to someone who has lost a job or otherwise fallen on hard times.

  • Watch the flyers. Sometimes these types of items are loss-leaders, which means the store will be selling them at a loss in the hope that you’ll buy some of their more overpriced merchandise.
  • Buy in bulk. Sometimes you can get a good deal by purchasing items in quantity. Places like Costco, Amazon, and Winco often sell non-food supplies in packs of 3, 6, or 24.  Be sure to do the math and confirm that you’re really saving money, though. Sometimes they can be tricky.
  • Hit the dollar store or clearance store.  I get lots of great stuff at our local Grocery Outlet, part of a chain. They sell lots more than groceries and often have organic brands of health and beauty aids for a fraction of the price that the boutique stores charge. The dollar store can also be a good source for certain items. Take care not to get something of terrible quality that won’t really work, though.
  • Clip coupons. If you’re a coupon-er, good deals can often be found on high quality, name brand items.

Add these items to your non-food stockpile

Your expanded stockpile will save you time, money, and stress. When you have a well-provisioned home, you can meet most situations with aplomb. Scenarios that would have other people scrambling to provide the basic necessities for their family will hardly register as a blip on your radar.

You can click the links to find reasonably priced options for some items.

  1. Soap (At the time of publication this was less than 50 cents per bar)
  2. Laundry products (or the ingredients to make your own)
  3. Shampoo and Conditioner
  4. Disposable razors
  5. Band-Aids
  6. First Aid supplies
  7. Calamine lotion
  8. Dish soap
  9. Feminine hygiene items
  10. Toilet paper
  11. Paper towels
  12. Baby wipes (even if you don’t have a baby!)
  13. Shower gel
  14. Cosmetics if you use them
  15. Coconut oil (This is SO multipurpose!)
  16. Peroxide (The dollar store and Wal-Mart usually have the best prices for this.)
  17. Rubbing alcohol (The dollar store and Wal-Mart usually have the best prices for this, too.)
  18. Hand sanitizer
  19. Bleach
  20. White vinegar
  21. Cleaning supplies
  22. Garbage bags
  23. Kitty litter (for emergency sanitation)
  24. Pet food
  25. Flea and tick medication for pets
  26. Essential oils
  27. Lotion and moisturizer
  28. Sunscreen
  29. Extra filters and parts for your water filtration device
  30. Spare parts for important equipment like canners or tools
  31. Matches
  32. Lighters (These were 33 cents apiece at the time of publication)
  33. Long-burning candles
  34. Batteries (This is a great deal)
  35. Stationary/school/office supplies
  36. Lip balm
  37. Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  38. Sewing/mending supplies
  39. Hair elastics (ask any female with long hair how necessary these are! In a pinch, I’ve been known to use a zip-tie to keep my hair back)
  40. Over-the-counter remedies for common ailments like heartburn, nausea, congestion, coughing, and pain relief
  41. Insect repellant
  42. Deodorant (We usually use homemade or an expensive natural brand, but I still keep this on hand.)
  43. Duct tape
  44. Paper plates and disposable cutlery (in the event of a water shortage)
  45. Tin foil (good for more than hats)
  46. Ziplock bags in a variety of sizes
  47. Cotton balls and cotton swabs
  48. Hardware like nails and screws for emergency repairs
  49. Vitamins
  50. Ammo…duh!!!

What non-food items do you store?

Do you also have a stockpile of non-food items? What do you keep on hand?  Share in the comments section below.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author ofThe Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

How To Survive A Personal Economic Collapse


With all that is being written about the national economic collapse, people seem to be waiting for some huge event.

However, for many North Americans, the collapse is here. This isn’t relegated to only lower income neighborhoods.  As an article from a Cinncinnati new station stated, “Hunger doesn’t know a zipcode.”

For many people who were formerly financially comfortable, the economic collapse has already happened, in the form of a job loss, hours that have been cut back due to Obamacare requirements for employers, an exorbitant medical bill or other crushing debt, or simply an inflation rate that has outstripped your pay increases.  Despite all of the warnings, many people are still going to be absolutely blindsided.

For many families, personal finances have reached a catastrophic level – they are left to make terrible choices:

  • Which utility can I live without?
  • Should I walk away from my mortgage?
  • Should I eat something so I can work harder or should I skip meals so my kids have food?
  • Should I use the grocery money to take my child to the doctor or should I wait and hope he/she improves without medical intervention?
  • Do I risk the IRS-enforced penalties by forgoing enrollment in Obamacare or should I skip that whole grocery shopping thing so I can pay the monthly premiums and enormous deductibles in order to stay in the government’s good graces?

These are the kind of decisions that people across the nation are grappling with every day.

I’m talking about good people, hardworking men and women who have always been employed and paid their bills. A personal financial crisis does not just strike those stereotypical “welfare queens” with the long manicured nails, Gucci knock-off purse, and a grocery cart full of EBT-funded lobster.

I’m talking about the person next door, who seems to have it all together. I’m talking about that quiet family that sits two rows in front of you at church. I’m talking about that two-income family with two children and a car in the driveway that takes them to work and school 5 days a week. I’m talking about people just like you and me.

What is a personal economic collapse?

A personal economic collapse is a little different than the major crises you see all over Europe right now, where huge segments of the population can’t feed their children or stay employed. It is a crisis that just hits your family due to a given set of circumstances.  (In actuality North Americans are on the brink of the kind of collapse that is occurring in Europe, but because of easy access to credit and a buy-now, pay-later society, many of us still have the appearance of prosperity.)

Here are some signs that you may be in the midst of a personal economic collapse:

  • You can only afford to pay the minimum payment on most of your bills.
  • The same dollar amount you used to spend on groceries doesn’t buy enough food to feed your family for the week.
  • You can’t afford to go to the doctor when you’re sick.
  • You are taking dangerous steps to “stretch” needed medications because you can’t afford the prescriptions.
  • Your utility bills are past due and your power is in danger of being cut off.
  • You skip meals in order to save money or to have enough food for your kids.
  • You’ve lost your job or had your hours cut.
  • You have lost property due to foreclosure or repossession (such as your home or your vehicle).

Surviving the crisis

Times are tough but you can survive this.

1.) First you have to see exactly where you are.

It’s time for a brutally honest assessment of your finances.  If you use your debit card or credit card for most expenditures, you’ll easily be able to see what you’re spending and bringing in.

Print off your bank account statements for the past 2 months.  On a piece of paper, track where your money is going.  List the following

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Utilities
  • Car payments
  • Vehicle operating expenses (fuel, repairs)
  • Insurances
  • Credit card and other debt payments
  • Telephone/Cell phone
  • Cable/Satellite
  • Internet
  • Extracurricular activities for the kids
  • Extracurricular activities for the adults
  • Dining out
  • Groceries
  • School expenses
  • Clothing
  • Recreational spending
  • Gifts
  • Miscellaneous (anything that doesn’t fall into the above categories gets it’s own category or goes here)

Don’t say to yourself, “Well, I usually don’t spend $400 on clothing so that isn’t realistic.”  If you spent it, then it’s realistic.  You are averaging together two months, which should account for those less common expenses.  Brutal honesty isn’t fun, but it’s vital for this exercise.

So….what do you see when you look at your piece of paper with your average monthly expenditures for the past two months?  Are there any surprises?  Did you actually realize how much you’ve been spending?   Most of us will immediately see places that we can trim the budget.  Those $1-$5 purchases can really add up.  Reining them in may just allow you to take care of an important need that you thought you could not meet.

It can’t continue like this.  The economy will not withstand it.  Step one is to see where you can cut things out right now from the above expenditures.  Can you reduce your grocery bill?  Slash meals out?  Budget more carefully for gift-giving and school clothes?

2.) Rethink necessities.

If your finances are out of control, the best possible reality check is a stark look at what necessities really are.  It is not necessary to life to have an iPhone, a vehicle in both stalls of your two-car garage, or for your children to all have separate bedrooms.  People in Southern and Eastern Europe right now will tell you, as they scramble for food, basic over the counter medications like aspirin, and shelter, that necessities are those things essential to life:

  • Water
  • Food (and the ability to cook it)
  • Medicine and medical supplies
  • Basic hygiene supplies
  • Shelter (including sanitation, lights, heat)
  • Simple tools
  • Seeds
  • Defense Items

Absolutely everything above those basic necessities is a luxury.

So, by this definition, what luxuries do you have?

3.) Reduce your monthly output

Reduce your monthly payments by cutting frivolous expenses. Look at every single monthly payment that comes out of your bank account and slash relentlessly.  Consider cutting the following:

  • Cable
  • Cell phones
  • Home phones
  • Gym memberships
  • Restaurant meals
  • Unnecessary driving
  • Entertainment such as trips to the movies, the skating rink, or the mall

4.) Waste not, want not.

We live in a disposable society.  Food comes in throw-away containers.  People replace things instead of repairing them.  If you throw out more than a couple of bags of garbage each week, that’s a very good sign that you may be wasting resources.

Before throwing anything away, pause and think about how it might be able to be reused.

  • Food: Many times small amounts of leftovers can be recycled into a brand new meal. Meat bones can be used to make broth or stock.  Small amounts of veggies or grains can be frozen and added to a future soup or casserole. Leftovers can be frozen in meal-sized portions to take to work for a brown-bag lunch. (Learn more about repurposing leftovers HERE.)
  • Clothing: Clothing that is torn or damaged can often be repaired with only rudimentary sewing skills. If it has been outgrown or cannot be repaired, often the fabric or yarn can be reused for other purposes, from cleaning rags to fashionable accessories like scarves and headbands, or home items like throw pillows, potholders or rag rugs.  When all else fails, the fabric can be used for cleaning rags or patches to repair other items. Keep jars full of buttons, elastic, and other notions that can easily be removed before you throw  a clothing item away or relegate it to the rag bag.
  • Electronics: Obviously, initially you should attempt to repair (or have repaired) electronic items that are not working. If this is not feasible, are there components of the item that can be reused, either now or in the future? What about hardware such as screws or fasteners?
  • Containers:  Most food comes in a container of some sort.  Before throwing the container away, consider whether or not it might be useful. Glass jars, plastic tubs, and plastic bags can often be reused to store food in your refrigerator or to contain food in brown bag lunches.  Clean aluminum cans can hold all manner of items, from hardware and tools in a workshop to sewing and craft supplies. Use your imagination.

5.) Take control of your food budget.

The price of food is skyrocketing.  Who hasn’t been to the grocery store recently and been shocked at the high price of that cart full of groceries or at the mysterious shrinking food packages that are the same price as yesterday’s larger ones?

  • Stockpile:  Create a stockpile of nutritious, healthy staples at today’s prices to enjoy when the cost goes even higher tomorrow.  (Learn how to create a frugal food stockpile HERE.)
  • Preserve: Learn to preserve food yourself when you come across a windfall.  Pressure canning, waterbath canning, freezing, and dehydrating can allow you to take advantage of great sales or end-of-season scores.
  • Eat less:  This suggestion isn’t for everyone, but many of us could stand to shed a few pounds.  Perhaps now would be a good time to cut back a little and shrink both your waistline and your weekly food bill.  Lots of people eat for the sheer entertainment of it or out of habit.  Next time you’re watching TV, grab some mending or a crossword puzzle instead of a bag of potato chips. Dish out slightly smaller servings at dinnertime to leave enough to stretch the leftovers for a brown bag meal the next day.
  • Drink water:  Skip the beverages and drink water instead. At less than $1 per gallon for purchased water you simply can’t beat the price.  It’s better for you, also, than sugar-y drinks.  If you are lucky enough to have well water or access to spring water, your drinks don’t have to cost you a penny.
  • Focus on nutrition instead of convenience:  Buy the best quality of food you can,  and skip the processed, nutritionless convenience foods.
  • Grow your own.  In the summer, grow the biggest garden you can. In the winter, or if you are an apartment dweller, put some sprouts and greens in a sunny windowsill to add some fresh produce for pennies.

6.) Reduce your dependence on utilities.

Energy rates are skyrocketing. As the prices begin to rise, more and more people will be unable to pay their bills and eventually their power will be shut off.  Check your bill each month and as prices increase, use less power. Try some of these ideas to reduce your reliance and drop your bills.

  • Hand wash your clothing
  • Hang clothes to dry
  • Cook on a woodstove or outdoor grill
  • Can foods to preserve them instead of relying on a large chest freezer
  • Turn the heat down a few degrees and use non-grid methods to keep warm
  • Use rain barrels to collect water
  • Direct the gray water from your washing machines to reservoirs
  • Turn off the lights and open the blinds
  • Use solar lighting whenever possible

How do you intend to weather the storm?

There are bleak days ahead.  Have you planned for this?  What strategies do you intend to use to weather the financial crisis that is coming for all of us?  What suggestions do you have for families who are undergoing their own economic collapses? Please post questions and ideas in the comments section below.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

8 Prepper Hacks For Cleaning Without Running Water


That magic moment when you go to wash your hands….and nothing comes out of the tap.

Late on Friday evening – you know, too late to reach the local repair guy – that was the scenario at our rented farm. Nary a drop was coming from our faucets.

For the past couple of months, I had believed there was an impending issue with our well. However, it was one of those intermittent problems that was impossible to diagnose before it actually fell apart completely. So, there we were after dinner on a Friday night, with laundry half way through a wash cycle, a sink mounded with dirty dishes, and the debris of a canning session all over the counters. And no running water.

Of course, having lived up North through a well going dry, numerous power outages, and frozen lines, this wasn’t our first rodeo. The nice thing about prepping is that we always plan for the worst-case scenario.

We immediately shifted to Plan B mode and tapped into our stored water.

While cleaning is certainly less than fun in these conditions, it can be done.  Here are 8 tips for cleaning without running water. (These and many more can be found in my book, The Prepper’s Water Survival Guide.)

1.) Break into the supply of disposable products.

Obviously in a long-term scenario, disposable products won’t be what you turn to for cleaning. However, during a short-term power outage, they can be very helpful in getting your food prep areas cleaned.

Before washing extra dirty dishes in soapy water, wipe them to get most of the crud off. You can use a cleaning wipe for this, since it will hold up better than paper towels.

2.) Use a container of rinse water instead of pouring water over dishes.

You can go through quite a lot of water running it over soapy dishes. Use a basin of water and rinse your dishes by dipping them into it. The bonus is, you can reuse the rinse water when you’re done.

3.) Use dishpans, not a plugged sink,  for washing and rinsing dishes.

Dishpans have the benefit of not letting that precious water run down the drain. When you don’t know how long your shortage of water is going to last, it’s important to make every drop stretch as far as possible. All of this water can be safely reused for specific purposes.

4.) Reuse your cleaning water.

The water that you’ve collected in your basins can be used yet again if you choose safely where to reuse it. For example, dishwater or cleaning water can be used for flushing the toilet. Rinse water can be used for mopping the floor, then used one more time for flushing.

5.) Clean counters with disposable wipes.

If you have no water and you’re pretty sure this is not going to be a long-term situation, don’t dirty up kitchen linens by scrubbing the counters with them. They’ll just have to be washed, using up even more of your stored water supply. (And depending on what you are scrubbing off the counters, they may need to be washed right away to keep from being smelly.)  Instead, use disposable cleaning wipes. When our brief disaster struck, I’d been canning tomatoes, always a messy endeavor that requires a great deal of clean-up afterward.

First, scrape off anything stuck to the counters. If your mess is dry, use a dry paper towel to get the crumbs off, then follow up with the wet cleaning wipes.  If your mess is a wet mess (like a spill) absorb as much of it as possible with paper towels. If you absorb with regular towels, hang them outside to dry so that you don’t end up with smelly, souring towels in your laundry room while you’re waiting for a chance to wash them. Once the major part of the mess on the counters is cleaned up, scrub with disposable wipes. If it is a food prep area, I usually then give it a quick spray with a vinegar cleaner and a wipe with a paper towel, because I don’t want chemical cleaner where I prepare the things we eat.

6.) Alternatively, use a basin and rag for cleaning counters.

If you don’t want to use disposable wipes, you can use a rag for cleaning the counters. Use a basin for rinsing out the rag while you clean.  Before dipping it in the basin, squeeze out the rag over the drain to get rid of some of the detritus from your counter. (Not that your counter will always be as messy as mine was after making marinara sauce.)

7.) Cleaning up after you clean up.

If you haven’t used disposable cleaning products, you will need to clean up after you clean up. Rinse all rags well in soapy water to get the chunks off. Then, wash the rag carefully, rinsing and wringing it out several times. Dip it in some of your dish rinse water to get the soap out.  Hang it to dry so that it doesn’t begin to smell sour.  If you did use disposable products and you had a big mess on your hands, take the garbage out so your home smells fresh and clean.

8.) Have a bathroom basin.

You can keep a dishpan full of water in the bathroom for handwashing too. Dip your hands into the water, then soap them up well. Scrub like you’re a doctor getting ready for surgery, getting into the nooks and crannies. Then dip your hands in the basin to rinse them well. Be sure to get all of the soap off or your hands will be itchy. After using this, you can dump the water into the toilet tank for flushing.

Wait…this stuff isn’t very organic!

If you’re reading over this and clicking your tongue over my use of commercial cleaning products, you’re absolutely right. These store-bought products are loaded with chemicals that I don’t want to make part of our every day lifestyle. But emergencies often call for measures you wouldn’t take on a daily basis. If you are running your household on stored water, you’re going to have to make some choices in order to make it last through the crisis.

For this reason, we turn to harsher products than we’d normally use. Most of our homemade products are very gentle on our skin, our lungs, and the environment. I would never revert to using these things regularly but I can make exceptions when I need to extend my water supply.

The key to cleaning in the midst of a water disaster

When you are cleaning up in a power outage situation, the key to success is not to end up with a bigger mess that requires even more water. I rarely use disposable products, but I do keep them on hand for those times during which we must rely on our water storage.

Here are the items I recommend that you keep on hand for water emergencies:

What are your no-running-water cleaning tips?

Luckily, our emergency was short-lived. Our well pump had burned out and the repair person made it to our place fairly quickly.  (We also learned that there isn’t a whole lot of water left in the well, so we’re being very thrifty with the water until the rainy season arrives.)

Have you ever had a situation in which you had no running water? How did you clean when that happened? Are there any products that you recommend adding to the list above? Please share in the comments below.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author ofThe Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

How The Perfect Prepper Plans Still Go Wrong


When a disaster strikes unexpectedly, there’s nearly always some kind of monkey wrench that causes your well-thought-out prepper plans to work less effectively than expected.  When describing the situation, the person says sheepishly, “Normally we wouldn’t have had X circumstance going on when it happened, and our preps would have worked just fine.”

Or, in the words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone’s got a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth.”

But, variables.

That’s just the thing. There is nearly always going to be a variable that doesn’t fall neatly into your imagined scenario. Your ability to roll with that is the truest test of your preps. It is more valid than any number of planned practice runs.

Don’t get me wrong. Planned practice runs are great and are a valuable technique to enhance your level of preparedness. But be honest – you nearly always do a little something extra to prepare for a practice run. Perhaps you make an extra trip to the store. Maybe you just got a brand new prep that you want to test out, inspiring the practice run that is a perfect scenario for the use of that prep.

But…disasters do not wait for the perfect time and circumstances.  They don’t always indicate their arrival and allow enough time for a trip to the store. (At least not a trip to the store during which  everyone else in your geographic vicinity is competing for the same supplies.)

Realizing this can take your preparedness to the next level.

Here’s an example that happened to us this past weekend.

On Friday, I spent the afternoon canning. I did a huge batch of tomatoes, and anyone who has ever canned tomatoes can tell you exactly how messy that was. My poor white kitchen looked like a crime scene. I made dinner and stacked the pots, pans, and dishes in the sink. I had a huge mess in the kitchen. I had a load of dirty laundry humming along in the washing machine as I began to tackle the chaos.

Then, I turned on the faucet and nothing came out.

Not a drop.

My well pump had finally given up the ghost.

And my kitchen was a disaster area. And soapy, wet laundry sat in my washer.

On the first day of our family emergency, we went through nearly triple our allotted amount of water, just to get things to the condition in which we could abide by our plan. Fortunately, I had quite a bit of water stored, but it wasn’t going to last nearly as long as I had expected with the giant dent I put in the supply on Day 1.

I pulled out my notebook and began to jot down the things we learned with this unexpected drill and reported it to some prepper folks that I hang out with. One friend said that I normally wouldn’t start out with tomato guts all over the counters and a sink full of dirty dishes and a soapy load of clothes in the washing machine. Initially, I agreed, since this isn’t the usual state of my home.

But then, I thought about it.

There’s nearly always some weird variable.

A few years ago when the Derecho hit the Washington DC area, a local friend there told me it had been laundry day. She had put off doing laundry because the family had been busy, and they had piles and piles of dirty clothes. The fact that they hardly anything clean left to wear had been the motivating factor in her sorting the large piles of laundry on the kitchen floor as she began to conquer the mountain.

And then the power went out. It went out for days. And there they were with all of that dirty laundry, a load in the washer, a load in the dryer, and hardly a thing to wear.  They ended up hanging the stuff in the dryer, hand washing to complete the stuff in the washer, and wearing the same stuff for the next few days during a horrible heat wave with no power.

The lesson here?

When a disaster hits your house, you will probably have some variable too. Very few of us are in a constant state of readiness. Life just doesn’t work like that.

We have busy weeks during which we may skip laundry day. We have messy kitchens because we just did a huge project. We have times when our house is messy and disorganized, or when we are waiting for the next paycheck before hitting the grocery store for some staples that are running low. We use up all the BBQ’s propane during a weekend cookout. We discover the kids have been quietly snacking on some of the no-cook goodies we thought were secretly stashed away, but discover it only when we go to pull that food out to feed the family during a power outage.

There’s really never a perfect time. There’s rarely a warning that comes at a time when we have enough in our bank account to grab anything we’re running short of, and also aligns with our ability to get to the store before everyone else that wants to pick up those vital items.

So, you have to make the best of it. You have to be ready to accept the fact that you’ll find that somewhere in your plans was a gap.  You’ll learn that you had prepped for a neat, perfect scenario but that life handed you an asymmetrical mess with a pile of dirty laundry in the kitchen.

That’s when you’ll discover how prepared you really are. That is when you will truly be able to test your adaptability, which is the true key to surviving any crisis.

Tips to enhance your state of readiness

There are some things we can do to be at the top of our game. Keep in mind that in an emergency, things won’t align perfectly, but by having the following in place you can start out in a better position.

  1. Have plans A, B, C, and beyond.  Never rely on just one plan. Always have several ideas in the back of your head so that you can effortlessly move on to the next plan, should Plan A be proven ineffective. (Here’s the most comprehensive preparedness primer around to help you plan for a wide variety of variables.)
  2. Always have a fully loaded pantry.  Never let your supplies reach the point where you need to run to the store to face an emergency. Use this guide to build a pantry unique to your family, and consider stocking some emergency food buckets for a back-up to your pantry. (This is my favorite, non-GMO brand – we have the gluten-free buckets.)
  3. Keep your home tidy and clean. Okay, life happens, so you can’t always have your home in perfect condition. However, if you keep it relatively clean and tidy, you reduce your chances of starting out during a disaster with tomatoes on your ceiling.  Keep your laundry pile to a minimum, your dishes washed, and your floors clean. Trust me, it’s way harder to do that without running water and electricity.
  4. Keep your supplies organized. If your home is clutter-free and your supplies have a place, then it’s going to be far easier to lay hands on what you need in the midst of a disaster. I’ll never forget our first power outage after we’d begun prepping. I had all of the back-up lighting, as well as extra batteries, but I hadn’t put them in the same place, or even taken them out of their packages. There I was, rummaging around in the dark, looking for the batteries for my flashlight and trying to open that evil plastic package without cutting off my thumb. This article gives some great ideas about how and why to get your supplies more organized.

Emergencies are rarely conveniently timed.

When a disaster strikes, you’ll probably find that the timing really could have been better. Don’t beat yourself up about it or start to feel unsuccessful in your endeavors. Emergencies are rarely conveniently timed. Consider this a test of your adaptability.

And when you get through it, congratulate yourself. It’s your ability to roll with the variables that makes you a true prepper.

Did you ever face an emergency with less than ideal timing?  What was the variable that threw a wrench in your perfect prepper plans?  Please share your story in the comments and let us know what you learned.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor who lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States. She is the author ofThe Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy writes about healthy prepping, homesteading adventures, and the pursuit of liberty and food freedom. Daisy is a co-founder of the website Nutritional Anarchy, which focuses on resistance through food self-sufficiency. Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, and you can email her at [email protected]

Superyacht Getaway Subs And Luxury Bomb Shelters: The Elite Are The Most Paranoid Preppers Of All


When it comes to “prepping”, many among the elite take things to an entirely different level.  As you will see below, the elite are willing to pay big money for cutting edge home security measures, luxury bomb shelters and superyacht getaway submarines. Some of the things that the elite are demanding for their own protection go beyond even what we would see in a James Bond film, and serving the prepping needs of the elite has become a multi-billion dollar business.  Meanwhile, the media outlets that the elite own continue to mock the rest of us for getting prepared.  All the time we see headlines like this one that appeared in a major American news source: “Preppers: Meet the paranoid Americans awaiting the apocalypse“.  Well, if we are paranoid for setting aside some extra food and supplies for the future, what does that make the people that you will read about in this article?

The elite live in a world that is completely different from the world that you and I live in.  In wealthy enclaves of major global cities such as London, elitists are willing to shell out massive amounts of money to ensure that everyone else is kept out.  The following comes from an article that was just published a few hours ago by the London Evening Standard entitled “The paranoid world of London’s super-rich: DNA-laced security mist and superyacht getaway submarines“…

Business is booming because billionaires are a paranoid bunch. Take one who recently moved to Mayfair. ‘He wanted everything, from protection from cyber hacking through to physical intrusion and kidnapping,’ says Bond Gunning. ‘We ended up installing fingerprint-activated locks for family members and programmable keys for staff that limit the time they are allowed into the property and the rooms they are able to enter and exit.

‘Inside and outside we installed 24-hour monitored CCTV cameras that are so hi-tech they can tell the difference between a dog, cat and a person. In the garden there are thermal-imaging cameras that can detect heat sources in the undergrowth. One thing intruders can’t hide is the heat of their bodies.

‘Should an intruder evade the cameras or ignore the warnings they automatically broadcast, the property itself is protected by bulletproof glass and alarm sensors in all rooms. There is a bullet, gas and bombproof panic or safe room, with its own food and water, medical supplies and communications, and an impregnable supply of fresh air. Just in case the family cannot make it there in time, key rooms are sealed by reinforced shutters.’

But for many elitists, those kinds of extreme security measures are simply not enough.  That is why sales of “luxury doomsday shelters” are absolutely soaring.  If “the end of the world” arrives unexpectedly, high net worth individuals want to know that there will be somewhere for them and their families to go.  The following is an excerpt from an article about one such facility located in Indiana

As we roll down US Highway 41 in Terre Haute, Indiana , my guide insists I give him my iPhone. Then he tosses me a satin blindfold. The terms of our trip were clear—I wasn’t to know where we were going or how we got there.That’s because we’re on our way to the undisclosed location of an underground bunker designed to survive the end of the world, whatever form that apocalypse takes.

When I remove my blindfold, I am standing in a grassy clearing looking at a boxy concrete structure that serves as the entrance to a Cold War–era government communications facility gutted and reborn as Vivos Indiana. This is the Ritz Carlton of doomsday shelters, a hideout where residents can wait out a nuclear winter or a zombie apocalypse in luxury and style while the rest of humanity melts and disintegrates. The living area has 12-and-a-half-foot ceilings, sumptuous black leather couches, wall art featuring cheerful Parisian street scenes, towering faux ferns, and plush carpets. Faith Hill croons from a large-screen TV set in front of three rows of comfy beige reclining chairs. The cupboards are stocked with 60 varieties of freeze-dried and canned foodstuffs; an evening meal might include spaghetti aglio e olio topped with skillet fried steak chunks, a fresh tomato-and-zucchini salad fresh from the hydroponic garden, and decadent turtle brownies. An eight-by-nine bedroom is designed for four people (there are larger units for six) and comes with double-queen bunks clothed in 600-thread-count ivory sheets and duvet covers worthy of a four-star hotel, a comparison highlighted on the Vivos website.

That sounds lovely.

But normal people like us cannot afford something like that.  It will only be the elite that will be able to afford to hole up in underground bunkers while the world above descends into madness.

Other elitists will be taking off in their superyachts and heading out into the open ocean when things really start falling to pieces.  And if their superyachts are threatened, some of them even have “getaway subs”.  Here is more from the Evening Standard

The ultimate vehicle of choice is no longer an armoured limousine or a private jet. They’re so Noughties. If you want bragging rights these days, you need your own submarine, which floats out of a sub-sea compartment in your superyacht. ‘It’s a toy, but if the worst happened, it could also be an escape route,’ says one prominent London tycoon with a weakness for Monaco-berthed superyachts — provided they have military-grade radar jammers and missile and torpedo defences.

So exactly why are so many among the elite so concerned about their own security these days?

Why are so many of them going to such extraordinary lengths to prepare for worst case scenarios?

Do they know something that the rest of us do not?

In a previous article, I included a quote from an article in the Mirror that was published earlier this year entitled “Panicked super rich buying boltholes with private airstrips to escape if poor rise up“…

Robert Johnson, president of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, told people at the World Economic Forum in Davos that many hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes.

He said: “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.”

The next time that someone criticizes you for prepping, just point out what the elite are doing.

Clearly, many of them are deeply concerned that something may be coming.

So are you preparing?

If so, what are you preparing for?

Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

Michael T. Snyder is a graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia and has a law degree and an LLM from the University of Florida Law School. He is an attorney that has worked for some of the largest and most prominent law firms in Washington D.C. and who now spends his time researching and writing and trying to wake the American people up. You can follow his work on The Economic Collapse blog, End of the American Dream and The Truth Wins. His new novel entitled “The Beginning Of The End” is now available on

Are You Guilty Of These Prepper Mistakes?


Webster defines an expert as a person “who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area”  That being said, when it comes to preparedness, is anyone ever really an expert?

Let’s be realistic. Every prepper, myself included, was a novice at one time or another.  Along our journey, we have consulted books, websites, blogs, and various government publications in our quest to learn abut preparedness in general and the prepper lifestyle in particular.  Were any of the individual authors of these sources experts?  Perhaps they were but if that were the case, why does our search continue?

Having chosen the prepper lifestyle, we continually find ourselves in search of that next best thing,  whether it is a piece of gear, a new type of freeze dried food, a fabulous new prepping book or a masterful survival skill. No matter what it is, there always seems to be something out there to capture our attention.

While I do believe that is it worthwhile to be forward-thinking when it comes to prepping, I feel it is equally beneficial to reflect on past mistakes.  Learning from prepper mistakes is an important part of the process and allows us to to move forward with a renewed sense of resolve to do it better “the next time”.

In this article I share some common and not so common prepper mistakes.  I have made many of these myself, while others, through dumb luck or planning, have been avoided.  Are you guilty of any of these prepper mistakes?

14 Common and Uncommon Prepper Mistakes

1. Failure to inventory stored food supplies

It is easy to amass a sizable supply of food in a short period of time.  This is especially true if you tend to purchase a little bit extra each time you shop.  Before you know it, you have a closet, pantry, a basement full of stuff but no clue as to what is inside.

Creating a master inventory is only half the battle.  Adding to the list as new items are purchased and removing items from the list as they are rotated out takes diligence and perseverance.  My own efforts in this area are  embarrassingly poor.

My best advice in this regards is that if you are fairly new to prepping, don’t let this one slip by.  Keep track of what you have from the get go and save yourself a lot of grief down the road.

2. Failure to perform a risk analysis and prepping for the most likely disruptive events first

When first getting started, it is easy to go off  willy-nilly preparing for all sorts of calamities.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, pandemics, nuclear melt-downs, civil disobedience; you name it and the call to prepare will be out there.  I can guarantee that this will drive you crazy!

I recommend that the very first step you take when prepping is to evaluate the most likely risks specific to your geographical area and your personal domestic situation.  Most, if not all, city, county and state governments will have emergency management websites that will help you sort through the most likely disasters to occur in your area.  Take advantage of these public resources.

Don’t stop there.  Take a hard look at demographics.  Are you in a city where gangs, mobs or terrorist attacks are likely?  Do you live in a remote area where the failure of transportations systems or the lack of fuel will cut off you off from supplies from the rest of the world?  Is your employment situation tenuous requiring that you build up some cash reserves to get you by just in case the job goes away?

Clearly, at the beginning, some choices will need to be made regarding the best use of your prepping budget.  Just remember that food, water and first aid supplies should be at the top of everyone’s list.  After that, assess the most likely risks and plan accordingly.

For ideas, take a look at 12 Months of Prepping: One Month at a Time. Here you will find links to articles that take you though the process of gathering what you need in terms of supplies, gear, tasks, and skills to set you on a positive path of preparedness.  It may not seem like a lot, but at the end of the year will will be better prepared than 95% of your neighbors.

3. Preparing mostly to bug out rather than bugging in

We all talk about having a bug-out-bag and without question, having your most basic survival items in a pack that you can grab and go if you need to get out of dodge in a hurry is important.  But beyond that, over and over I see people acquire all sorts of gear for surviving on the run –  perhaps in the woods or bush at a remote location.

I know that in my own case and also with the majority of the readers on Backdoor Survival, hunkering down and bugging in will always be preferred to taking off into the unknown with our stuff.  For many, the choice to bug in has to do with family, health concerns or financial considerations.  That, plus the availability of stored supplies makes bugging in – or staying at home – the choice when a disaster strikes.

At the end of the day, take care of your bugging in needs first and foremost.  Plan for outdoor cooking facilities (perhaps an existing charcoal grill?), supplemental lighting (like this $20 Dorcy Wireless Motion LED Flood Lite), stored water, and a portable generator now.  Later, down the road, you can expand your supplies to include the essentials for truly bugging out.

That said, pay attention to mistake number 4.

4. Failure to evacuate at just the right time

When the storm of the century is heading your way, know that it is time to evacuate.  Load up your vehicle and go.  As much as you feel that your are better off in your own home, if the authorities tell you to leave – and even if they do not – get out of harm’s way as a precautionary measure.  Do so while you still have the ability to load up your vehicle with supplies and fill the tank with gas.

Sticking around when there is at least a 50% chance of a disaster occurring (hurricane, flood, landslides, tsunami,wildfire) is just plain silly.  Remember mistake number 2, failure to evaluate the risks?  Part of your planning should be to determine the trigger point for evacuation as well as identification of an evacuation site and a route to get there.  Better yet, plan multiple alternate routes as well.

5. Having the gear but not knowing how to use it

This is more common than you might think.  How many of you have a closet that represents a survivalists dream?  Emergency radios, compasses, propane stoves and lanterns, tactical knives, firearms, cross-bows, hand tools, solar kits and more lie idle and unused and untested in more homes than you might think.

Every single one of these items needs to be put through its paces two or three times a year at a minimum.  Not only do you need to know how to use your gear, but you need to ensure that your gear is in good working order.  Blades need to be sharpened, batteries need to be charged and skills need to be refreshed.

6. Underestimating other humans as a threat

In a perfect world, we would all get along and go about our business in a mild-mannered way, not bothering anyone or causing others harm.  Alas, as humans this has never been the case.  From biblical times forward, man has opposed man.  There have been and still are warriors, and armies, soldiers and dictators, enemies and foes.

As mass shootings have revealed, mental illness or drugs can make good people go bad.  Add the uncertainly and chaos created by an unstable society and the potential for human threat becomes a major cause for concern.

Whether you embrace firearms or shun them, you still need a way to defend yourself, your family and your property.  Consider pepper sprays, martial arts, and other defensive mechanisms in addition to traditional firearms.  It is foolhardy to believe that having some means of defense is not needed because “there is no one out to get you”.  Don’t be naive in this regard!

Desperate people are dangerous people.  And the lack of food, water and supplies will turn ordinary people into desperate people in a heartbeat.

7.  Spending your entire budget on gear instead of on food, water, and medical supplies

Shopping for new gadgets, gizmos, and gear is both fun and addictive.  Who wouldn’t want the latest $150 tactical flashlight or that set of high tech night goggles to use in spotting bad buys before they see you.

Purchasing survival gear is a necessary part of the prepping process but it should not be done to the exclusion of food, water, and medical supplies.  The exception to this rule is water purification and fire-making tools both of which can be acquired for very little cost.  (Consider pool shock for water treatment plus a magnesium fire tool and dryer lint for fire-making.)

Over and over again, I learn of families that have thousands of dollars invested in gear, including an arsenal of firearms and ammo, but have less than thirty days worth of food.  Not only that, the food they have is poorly packaged and is therefore subject to spoilage or an infestation of pests.  (See mistake #8.)

When developing a preparedness budget, pay close attention to the day to day needs you will incur following a disaster or disruptive event.  Doesn’t it make sense to take care of those needs first?  The gear will come in time so ensure that you are not gear rich but food poor.

Make a concerted effort to avoid impulse purchases and you will be fine.

8. Lacking the knowledge to properly store your food supplies

There are six enemies of food storage:  Temperature, Moisture, Oxygen, Light, Pests and Time.

Okay, some might say there is a seventh enemy: namely the two legged type that gets into the tastier items (such a cans of brownie mix) and eats them without telling anyone.

Seriously though, storing food for the long term, meaning five years or longer, does take some care.  Brush up on the basics of food storage and set up an active rotation program.  You don’t necessarily have to store food for 10 years or longer but what you do store, even for a year or two, should be protected to the best of your ability.

One thing to keep in mind that except for the problem with pests, most food will still be edible even if it is not stored at optimal temperatures in a moisture and oxygen-free environment.  Learn proper storage methods to insure maximum taste and nutrition.

There are many food-storage articles on this website (such as this one, Food Storage Mistakes and Goofs) as well as others (type “food storage” in the search box at the upper right hand side of the page).  In addition, consider “Prepper’s Guide to Food StorageAre You Guilty of These Prepper Mistakes? | Backdoor Survival” as an all in one resource available in both e-book and print form.

9. Buying gear and supplies while ignoring the need to develop skills

Buying stuff is easy.  You save your money, select your merchandise and go to your local outdoor emporium or Amazon and make a purchase.

On the other hand, learning new skills (or practicing old ones) takes time, patience and bit of study.  Do you know how to start a fire without matches or a butane lighter?  Do you know how to take advantage of natures bounty by knowing how to fish or hunt?  And what about growing your own food?  Could you do it if you had to?

Developing skills to become self-sufficient are every bit as important as having a closet full of the best gear money can by.  Remember that.

10. Relying only on yourself and ignoring like-minded members of your community

When I first started prepping, I did not mention my new little “hobby” to anyone.  You know, OPSEC and all that.  But about a year into it, I realized that I could not do it all on my own.  There were things I was having trouble grasping and I needed help.  As I tip toed around the edges of my community, I found some like minded people and much to my surprise, I found that I had skills and knowledge that they lacked.

The mutual exchange of skills and knowledge ensued along with some informal agreements to team up if circumstances required us to be on our own for any period of time.  This included teaming up for shelter and food as well as defense.

The importance of having a peer group of like minded comrades in my own community was strengthened as I read R. P. Ruggiero’s Brushfire Plague and continues as I explore other truer than life survival stories,.  How you decide to expand your community contacts is up to you but be advised that when it comes to survival 1 + 1 will definitely add up to more than 2.

11.  Just because someone else does something does not mean that you should do it to

There is an unspoken rule of the road in boating:  just because the other guy is doing it does not mean he is right or knows what he is doing.  Personally I have been there and done that and nearly ended up on the rocks.

The same rule applies to prepping.

As someone who reads a lot on the internet, you have likely come across many authorities with “expert” advice on one topic or another.  This is where the gray matter between your ears becomes the most important tool in your box of prepper skills.  Think it through before you unilaterally apply someone’s expertise to your own situation.  This is includes advice and suggestions from this website!

Go back to the beginning and do a risk analysis.  Examine your budget; can you afford it?  What are your living conditions?  What is the likelihood that a hurricane (or earthquake or wildfire) will threaten your home?  Are you physically up to the task of bugging out on foot?

Every step along the way you should be asking yourself these questions and more.  You are unique.  Recognize and embrace the fact that with preparedness, one size does not fit all.

12.  Falling victim to prepper procrastination

You have read the best books out there and  spent the wee hours of the night reading every website you can find that teaches and preaches preparedness.  You should be ready to embark upon your preparedness journey but remain a lurker.

There is no other way to say it but this:  just start.  Select one small task or one small project and see it through to completion.  Take some baby steps and spend an hour, perhaps two, and get something done.  The results will be worth it.

Even if you are just an occasional victim of prepper procrastination, you should go back and read Learning to Overcome Prepper Procrastination.

13. Obsessing about behind the curve-ball

Read this carefully then read it again.  You will never be done.

There will always be stock to rotate, supplies to purchase, and skills to learn.  Being worried and obsessed about getting every thing done at once will only increase your stress during an already stressful period in life.

Get over it!

14.  Forgetting that there is a life beyond prepping

Of all of the prepper mistakes, this is perhaps the most difficult to overcome.

For many, the call of prepare becomes a full-time avocation.  Living and breathing preparedness becomes the norm, disrupting work and family activities as well as the personal quiet time we all need to recharge our internal batteries.  Sleep becomes elusive as you fret about being ready.  You live in a perpetual state of stress.

Hopefully, this has not and will not happen to you.  Trust me, though, it does happen and at one time this happened to me.

Above all, remember that regardless of what you think about the future, you still have one precious life to live.  You can not stop the clock of time so unless you feel an imminent danger, continue to live your life as normally and joyfully as possible.  Attend family celebrations and continue to take vacations.  Have fun and learn to play.

Isn’t life itself the reason you are prepping and surviving in the first place?

The Final Word

These days I feel fortunate that I have come so far with my prepping activities.  Moving beyond obsession, the prepping way of life is now a part of my core.  It is “what I do” as well as being a hobby and a passion.

Indeed, I have made some mistakes along the way and many of them are listed above.  There will surely be others down the road but I know that will be okay since they will afford me an opportunity to learn and grow.  At the end of the day, life is all about growth, opportunity and the ability to take care of oneself physically, mentally and spiritually.  To me, that is what prepping is all about, mistakes and all.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

101 Low Cost Items To Barter When The SHTF


I would be preaching the choir if I told you that it is wise to gather extra supplies that you can use for bartering in a post-collapse world.  The issue for many, however, is that their budget allows no room for extras.  Finding funds for long term personal preps, let alone daily needs can be an ongoing challenge.

Let’s face it. We all know that the middle class is disappearing.  Food and health care costs are up and even those with comfortable nest eggs are finding that their funds are rotting, earning virtually no interest and suffering the ravages of inflation. So what are we to do?

The first rule of thumb is to acquire skills that can be bartered for goods.  That is the smart thing to do regardless of your financial situation.  Beyond that, there are a number of low cost items that you can accumulate over time, even if you are poor.

Backdoor Survival reader Elaine K. sent me her list of “poor man’s barter items”.  It gave me so many ideas that I expanded the list to include even more items.  Here it is: 101 low cost items to barter if the stuff hits the fan.

Poor Man’s Barter Items

  1. Candles
  2. Garden tools
  3. Fly swatters
  4. Insect spray
  5. Rat & mouse poison
  6. Rodent traps
  7. Scissors
  8. Needles
  9. Straight pins
  10. Safety pins
  11. Buttons
  12. Thread
  13. Elastic-material
  14. Dry beans
  15. Rice
  16. Noodles
  17. Flour
  18. Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice, sage, parsley etc.
  19. Coffee
  20. Cooking Oil
  21. Coffee filters
  22. Pepper
  23. Sugar
  24. Salt
  25. Hand crank or manual can openers
  26. Canned food – any type
  27. Wooden, strike anywhere matches
  28. Old newspapers
  29. Wax for fire-starting
  30. Large cotton balls with soaked in petroleum jelly (also for starting fires)
  31. Bleach (or freshly made pool shock)
  32. Baby wipes (Note:  these can be used to clean face, hands, arm pits, groin in case there is no water. If dried out, pour in a cup of water into container)
  33. Cocoa
  34. Baking Soda
  35. Spirits:  wine, whisky, beer, vodka, brandy
  36. Coloring books & crayons
  37. Scrap paper
  38. Pencils
  39. Ballpoint pens
  40. Copy paper
  41. Lined notebook paper
  42. Tooth paste
  43. Toothbrushes
  44. Dental floss
  45. Combs
  46. Hair brushes
  47. Disposable razors
  48. Nail clippers and files
  49. Feminine products
  50. Bars of soap
  51. Toilet paper
  52. Hair pins
  53. Batteries
  54. Cigarettes
  55. Tobacco
  56. Cigarette lighters
  57. Tobacco seeds
  58. Aluminum foil
  59. Plastic sheeting
  60. Socks – all sizes & colors
  61. Shoe laces
  62. Reading glasses
  63. Garbage bags (can’t have too many)
  64. Brooms
  65. Dust pans
  66. Clothes pins
  67. Clothes lines
  68. Garbage cans
  69. Shoelaces
  70. Rope of any type
  71. Honey
  72. Hard candy
  73. Popcorn
  74. Kool-aid
  75. Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and aspirin
  76. Essential oils
  77. Cough syrup
  78. Eye drops
  79. Band aids
  80. Laxatives
  81. Lip balm or chapstick
  82. Axes
  83. Nails, nuts, bolts, & screws
  84. Heirloom garden seeds
  85. Fresh garden produce and herbs
  86. Herb plants
  87. Hand garden tools
  88. Two cycle oil
  89. Automotive oil and air filters
  90. Paperback books
  91. Plastic tarps
  92. Duct tape
  93. Fels naphtha bar soap
  94. Washing/laundry soda
  95. Borax
  96. Oxyclean
  97. Home made laundry detergent
  98. Garden compost
  99. Garden fertilizer
  100. Plastic tubs & containers
  101. Petroleum jelly (Vaseline)

The Final Word

Elaine K. is sixty-six years old and has been a widow since 1985.  Like many of us, old and young, times have been tough and she has had to teach herself survival by embracing plain old common sense.  Sound familiar?

When she first wrote to me, she indicated that she wanted to do something to help others.  I am sure you will agree that her list is an inspiration to get started gathering low cost items that will be invaluable in a barter-society if and when the SHTF.

Now tell me, can you thing of more inexpensive if not downright cheap items to accumulate for barter purposes?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

Survival Basics: Prepping for An Unexpected Power Outage


You don’t have to be a prepper to realize that power outages can happen anytime, to anybody, and anywhere.  Some outages are planned, some are the result of Mother Nature kicking up a storm, and some are the unexpected result of a natural or man-made crisis.  More recently, the threat of a cyber-attack or terrorist invoked EMP has been added to the mix, and most assuredly, if that were to happen, we will be without power for an extended time.

The bottom line is this: the delicacy of our grid is such that nearly any disruption can cause a sudden and unexpected power outage.

Whatever the reason, there are various measures you should take now to ensure both your comfort and safety when the power blows unexpectedly.  The good news is that prepper or not, most people already have the most basic power outage survival items on hand:


Unless you have been living in a cocoon in Siberia, chances are that these items have already been set aside in your household so that they will be readily available when the lights blink off.  For a 3- or 4-hour outage, you will be just fine with these basic supplies.

But what if the power is lost for a longer period of time? How will you cook your food?  How will you keep warm?  How will you ensure your safety and security in the dark?  These are just a few of the issues you will face if there is an unexpected and extended power outage.  Add infants, the elderly, or the infirm to the mix unless you have planned ahead, you will have a big problem and potential catastrophe on your hands.

Preparing in Advance For a Power Outage

Today I get back to survival basics and offer suggestions and ideas for prepping for an unexpected power outage. My goal is to get those wheels in your brain cranking, and to provide you with a list of suggestions that can be implemented in stages as your needs and budget allow.

1.  Store foods that require very little in terms of warming or cooking.  These foods should be items that your family normally eats.  Suggestions?  Canned meats, peanut butter, crackers, canned fruits and veggies granola bars, and cold cereals.  If you are a coffee drinker, include some instant coffee as well.

The list is endless but let me caution you: if you gag at the thought of cold ravioli out of a can now, you will also gag if you have to eat it in an emergency, power outage situation.  Don’t be silly.  Store foods that are meant to be eaten cold or at room temperature, or, if not, try sampling them in advance just to be sure.  This may sound crazy but cold baked beans out of a can are actually quite good! Don’t forget the manual can opener and some disposable plates and utensils.

2.  Acquire one or more alternate cooking sources.  You can cook outdoors using a fire pit, charcoal or propane barbeque, camp stove or even a DIY rocket stove.

We are lucky in that we have a propane cooktop in our kitchen that can easily be lit with a match.  In addition, we have a Volcano Collapsible Cook Stove, an EcoZoom rocket stove, and three Solo Stoves. These devices provide options when it comes to using fuel not the least of which is biomass.  We also have a  cast iron fire pit that is set up for cooking, a couple of butane stoves, a gas grill, and a Sun Oven.

3. Store fuel for your chosen cooking method.  Except for the Sun Oven, all require a source of fuel so don’t overlook having a supply on hand lest you take to chopping up the furniture to fuel the campfire.

This could be wood for the fire pit, propane cylinders for the gas grill, or 100 pounds of charcoal.  It could also be a large bucket of pine cones or twigs to use as biomass in your rocket stove.  The point is to store fuel because without question, you are going to need it.  One more point:  educate yourself on the proper storage of fuel.  All of the food in the world will not help you one bit if you blow yourself to bits with fuel that has not be stored and used in a safe manner.

If propane is your fuel of choice, you will find lots of information and useful tips in the series Propane For Preppers, The Five Part Series.


4.  Have at least one good lantern plus lots of flashlights.  Choose a lantern that will cast a wide beam and one that is large enough to fill a room with brightness when the sun goes down.  We have both a Coleman propane lantern and a Coleman battery powered lantern.  Coleman lanterns are a timeless choice because they last forever and replacement parts, even for older models, are readily available.

Solar lanterns are also useful and these days, many can be charged when the skies are overcast?  My favorite is the Sun Bell which can also be used to charge a cell phone, Kindle, or other electronic device.

Then there are flashlights.  Although they are pocket-sized, you can’t beat the price on these Mini-Crees (usually less than $4), the Coast HP1, and the Block-Lite.  All right, I do have a flashlight fetish and just can’t help myself!

5.  Stock supplies for bundling up. Blankets are good, but a nice toasty sleeping bag or down comforter is better.  A heavy jacket and socks are good, too.

Plan to add layers for staying warm in a grid down scenario.  Long johns, covered by clothing and topped with a jacket will serve you well. Don’t forget hats, scarves, and fingerless gloves, so that you can stay warm and still function.

6.  Invest in a generator.  We invested in a 10 kw whole house generator that will automatically power our home during the frequent outages on our island.  Think it won’t happen to you?  A number of years back, the city of Seattle was dark for almost a week.  It happens. After Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast a few years ago, the power was down for weeks in parts of New York City.

I am not suggesting that you invest thousands of dollars in a whole house generator,  For one, they take a lot of fuel. Also, installation by a qualified electrician is probably going to cost as much as the generator itself.

If you do go this route, make sure you test the installation!  I can not stress this too much.  After having my own generator installed, I was caught with no refrigerator power during a short term outage because I stupidly trusted the electrician to get things right.  Wrong.  The wiring from the refrigerator to the master panel was not connected and we lost of lot of food,  Whatever you do, test then test again every few months or so.

A portable generator can be purchased for as little as $500 or $600.  If I were to do this again, I would skip the big, expensive unit and go with a portable unit.  Rather than rely on a generator for power, I would much rather have the skill and determination to live without power for the duration of the outage.

There is one more caveat with generators. They can alert criminals that you are well prepared. Some generators are quite noisy, and your home will be a beacon in the darkness if it’s the only one lit up during an emergency. Depending where you live, caution is advised.

The last point that I want to make again lest you forget:  be sure that you store plenty of fuel for your generator.

7.  Consider solar power. If you have the proper sun exposure, the budget, and the space, solar power can be a backup to your local power grid.  Many local utilities, states, and even the federal government offer financial incentives and policies that promote renewable energy.  It is worth checking into.

8.  Fill empty milk or juice jugs with water then store them in your freezer so that all of the spare nooks and crannies are filled.  This will serve a variety of purposes,  The freezer will operate more efficiently because it is full, plus, if there is an outage, the frozen jugs of ice will hold the contents cool for a longer period of time.  You can even move some of the jugs of ice to your refrigerator to keep things cold for a short term following an unexpected outage.

Note:  the water stored in this manner, when thawed, can be used for cleaning or flushing but not for drinking unless it is purified or filtered.

For more help understanding how to keep food safe during a power outage, read 11 Tips for Keeping Food Safe When the Power Goes Out.

Other Useful Stuff

We have covered basic power needs but what are some of the other essentials that you will want to have on hand during a power outage?

The following items will help you to sail through a power outage:

Battery operated or hand crank radio.  Remember, without power, there may be no way to use your computers. Your DSL or cable service is likely to be kaput at well.  This could be the only way you are able to get news.

Solar battery charger.  Very handy for charging batteries to power flashlights and other battery powered devices.

Chemical light sticks. They more versatile than you might expect. (Here are 10 reasons you need them in your emergency kit.)

Amusements.  Books, games, and playing cards.  My favorite?  A couple of decks of Canasta cards.

The Spirit of Adventure.  Okay, I had to throw that in.  Let’s face it, a positive attitude plus your emergency preps will help you soldier through an extended power outage.

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

The 9 Best Essential Oils For Your Survival Kit


There are many reasons why learning about essential oils is useful for preppers.  Not the least of those reasons is to lessen the reliance on expensive and often ineffective and toxic pharmaceuticals.  How often have you filled an expensive prescription only to have side effects or find that the drug simply did not work.  Other than add these meds to your SHTF barter kit, you are out of luck.

On the other hand, most essential oils are quite inexpensive and have the added bonus that a prescription is not required.  With essential oils you have the freedom of where to shop, how much to pay, and how to use them.  You can dilute essential oils in a carrier oil or salve, use them in a compress, or diffuse them, or use them in a myriad of other ways suitable to your situation.

With that in mind, today I want to answer one of the most frequently asked questions I get regarding essential oils: what are the best essential oils to set aside for my survival kit?   In other words, what are the specific “set it and forget it” oils that are on par with emergency food and water storage?

Nine Essential Oils for the Long Term Survival Kit

There are many factors that have gone into my choices, including an oil’s versatility and its ability to resolve multiple woes.  I have also taken into consideration price and shelf life.  More about that in bit, but first, here my own list of the nine best essential oils for the long term survival kit along with my top 4 uses for each of them.

1.  Lavender

Treats cuts, scrapes, and burns and works to promote healing

Induces calm, relieves anxiety and stress, promotes sleep

Eliminates the sting of bug bites

Relieves pain and soreness caused by sprains and muscle aches

For more uses: The Miracle of Lavender Oil: 25 Amazing Uses for Survival

Resource:  Lavender Essential Oil

2.  Peppermint

Relieves headache pain

Topical treatment of allergies

Repels ants, spiders, mice and other pests from home and garden

Treats digestive disorders such as heartburn, bloating, indigestion, and constipation

For more uses:  The Miracle of Peppermint Oil: 20 Practical Uses for Survival

Resource:  Peppermint Essential Oil

3.  Melaleuca (Tea Tree)

Use as an antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial and fungicide.  Kills germs and prevents infection!

Eliminate mold and mildew

Fights colds, sinus infections, respiratory ailments and bronchitis

Treats wounds

For more uses:  The Miracle of Tea Tree Oil: 80 Amazing Uses for Survival

Resource: Melaleuca (Tea Tree) Essential Oil

4.  Rosemary

Improve concentration and memory plus provide increased mental and physical stimulation

Relive anxiety and stress by calming and relaxing the nerves

Sooth and heal skin disorders by reduce itching, dryness and irritation

Treat respiratory problems and congestion through inhalation

For more uses: The Powerful Healing Qualities of Rosemary Essential Oil

Resource:  Rosemary Essential Oil

5. Frankincense

Reduce inflammation and relieve conditions where pain and inflammation are present

Heal wounds from cuts, scrapes, and burns

Mitigate depression and feelings of helplessness

Boost and supercharge the effectiveness of other essential oils when used in tandem or layered on top of other oils

For more uses:  22 Powerful Uses of Frankincense Essential Oil

Resource:  Frankincense Essential Oil

6. Clove

Relieve toothaches and reduce the pain of canker sores and gum irritation

Disinfect hard surfaces and utensils

Freshen foul or stale air

Treat wounds, cuts, scabies, athlete’s foot, fungal infections, bruises, prickly heat, insect bites and stings.

For more uses:  20 Ways To Benefit from Clove Essential Oil

Resource:  Clove Bud Essential Oil

7. Lemongrass

Provide immediate relief to “clenched” and knotted tendons and muscles

Reduce fevers

Eliminate body odor and other foul smells

Reduce bacterial around the home by using it in DIY cleaning products

For more uses:  23 Awesome Uses for Lemongrass Essential Oil

Resource:  Lemongrass Essential Oil

8. Roman Chamomile

Promote sound sleep (especially when nothing else works!)

Create a sense of well-being by reducing stress, anxiety, and fearfulness

Heal skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema

Treat nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and gas

Resource:  Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

9. Shield Protective Blend or other “Robber’s Blend”

Use as an effective hand sanitizer

Blend into DIY cleaning products for extra disinfecting power

Create an anti-viral spray to eliminate both airborne and surface micro-organisms

Prevent or relieve the symptoms of colds and flu

Note:  “Robber’s Blend” can go by many names, including Shield, Thieves or simply “Protective Blend”.  The components are similar and include various amounts of clove bug, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oil.  Although you could make it yourself, having it ready-to-go in your survival kit will save you time and eliminate the need to store the variety of oils needed.

Resource:  Shield Protective Blend

What About Shelf Life?

Something that preppers struggle with is shelf life, especially under climate conditions that are widely variable.  This not only applies to food storage, but also to essential oils.  That being said, essential oils have been known to stay viable for years, even when kept at room temperatures.

The issue, so it seems, is that once opened, if not tightly sealed, they may evaporate or oxidize.  Certain oils, and especially citrus oils and some coniferous essential oils, are rich in a hydrocarbon class called “terpenes” tend to deteriorate more quickly.

The thing to remember is that in a survival situation, storage conditions will not be optimal.  Besides evaporation, signs that your oils have degraded include a drastic change in aroma, intense thickening, and cloudiness.  I personally have not had this occur with any of my oils, many of which are over five years old.  In addition, I keep a bottle of lavender oil in my vehicle and even after sitting outside in the sun for the past six months, it smells as fresh as the day it was initially opened.

For more information on the shelf life of essential oils, there is a balanced discussion in this article on the AromaWeb website:  Essential Oil Shelf Life.

A Word About Essential Oils

After a significant amount of research, for health, first-aid, and wellness purposes I use essential oils from Spark Naturals.  There are a lot reasons, the most important being their commitment to both quality and value.  I am satisfied that the raw materials used in Spark Naturals products are tested and authenticated to be of pharmaceutical grade purity.

In addition, the Spark Naturals commitment to customer service is unsurpassed.  They take care of their customers, period.  If you decide to make a purchase from Spark Naturals, please know that you will enjoy a 10% discount on your order when you use the code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout. (Note:  I do receive a small commission on your purchase and for that I extremely appreciative.)   

The Final Word

This article is in response to the many comments and emails I have received asking which oils I personally stockpile for the long term.  This is that list; a list I like to call my “ultimate essential oil survival kit”.  In my experience, all of these oils have proven themselves over and over again in my own use, and, with the exception of Frankincense, are reasonably priced if not downright cheap.

My recommendation?  When one of these oils goes on sale, purchase two or three and set them aside for the long term.  If the stuff hits the fan, not only will food become scarce, so will medications and essential oils.  In my own household, we are stockpiling both, with a heavy emphasis on essential oils.  We do this with the blessing of our personal health care provider who is tracking our progress and weaning us from pharmaceuticals when practical.

As with all things related to survival first aid and healthcare, your mileage may vary.  The best you can do is learn is much as you can now to determine what works best for you and your family.  Something that works well on one person, may work differently on someone else.  Use essential oils neat, in a diffuser, or diluted with a carrier oil or simple salve.  Have fun with them and embrace the use of plant-based oils to foster good health!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.

The 10 Personality Traits Of Successful Survivalists


Have you ever noticed that most preppers have a lot in common? There are certain personality traits that seem to be present in nearly every single prepper and survivalist I have met, and the more prevalent these traits, the more successful they are at prepping and survival.

We do a lot of talking about what preppers do wrong, and about those mistakes and oversights that can get you killed, but today I want to focus on the positive: those core traits that will see you through the ups and downs of life, whether it’s in the midst of a major disaster or a daily inconvenience.

Today I’d like to share with you my take on ten things that preppers get right.  I list them in no particular order although I tend to think the first and last might be the most important.

10 Traits of the Successful Prepper

1.  The Will to Live

Preppers approach long term survival with gusto.  As busy as they might be with job and family obligations, they are laser-focused on ensuring that they will be safe for the long term.  They want to live and want to enjoy the bounty of life itself.  To that end, they are prepared to endure hardships and are prepared to defend what is theirs.  They want to live, no matter what, and want to be productive members of society.

2.  Thirst for Knowledge

There is always something new to learn and to keep the prepper’s brain engaged.  There is never a time when they say “enough”.  As difficult as it may be at times to deal with the reality of our world, preppers seek knowledge and truth. They relentlessly pursue just one more skill and one more fact that will help them prevail if their world goes to heck.

3.  Belief in Family Values

The family as a social unit is important, whether it is a family of two or a family of twenty.  Preppers know that and embrace and protect the family unit because it provides a sense of belonging, as well as an environment for honesty and respect.  However the family unit is defined (and each of us may define “family” in different terms), the core ideals remain the same: responsibility, accountability, and love.

4.  The MacGyver Instinct

Every prepper is a handyman.  We fix stuff.  We make things work by cobbling together odd bits and pieces into something newly purposed.  We throw away nothing, lest it have some useful purpose down the road.  We strive to jerry-rig our way out of just about anything, sometimes with only some paracord and duct tape.  The words “I can’t make it work” do not exist in the Prepper’s vocabulary.

5.  Compassion for Others

Wikipedia defines compassion as “the emotion that we feel in response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help”. The so-called survivalists of old were stereotyped as loners.  These days, most preppers understand the value of being around others and feel a strong emotional connection to helping those that are unable to help themselves.

This is not to say that we as a group are a bunch of bleeding hearts that will give away our hard-earned preps to anyone who comes asking.  Quite the contrary.  What it does mean is that we show compassion for those that are disabled, elderly, ill, or simply lack the financial means to do more than a modicum of preparations.  From these individuals we will seek knowledge and skills rather than physical possessions.

Of course, your compassion must be tempered with common sense. In an all-out disaster (and heck, sometimes it doesn’t even take a major event) some people will try to take advantage – brutal advantage – of your willingness to help. Use extreme caution when assisting others. Even people you feel you know can turn ugly in desperate circumstances.

6.  Physical and Mental Fitness

To stay on top of the game, we must be able to move around freely and in an unencumbered manner.  This means we must get regular exercise now so that we will be physically fit if we ever have to face an evacuation or a bug-out situation.  When performed  on a regular basis, functional fitness activities can help you survive when disaster strikes.

We must also stay nimble of mind so that rational decisions can be made quickly under the most adverse of circumstances. The ability to accept that something bad has happened and move forward to make speedy decisions requires practice and a specific mindset.

Most preppers know this and work toward a goal of physical and mental fitness each and every day of their lives.

7.  Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. For some this comes naturally, but for most, this is an acquired skill that is honed by the thoughtful examination of risks and rewards before coming to a logical and decisive solution to a problem.  By considering various catastrophic scenarios in advance, preppers make plans for dealing with the risks most inherent to their geographical location and personal circumstances.

8.  The Ability to Drive a Hard Bargain

With very few exceptions, the preppers I know live within the confines of a budget.  In addition to funding their daily life and daily activities, they must fund the acquisition of supplies, outdoor gear, water storage facilities and extra food.  They do this by shopping for bargains, searching for used items at thrift stores and garage sales, and by trading those items they no longer need for items they do.

They practice the skill of bartering services for goods and goods for services.  By doing so, they are able to acquire what they need not only for now, but for long term survival.

9.  Understanding of the Value of Networking

Preppers understand that not everyone knows everything and not everyone has every single skill they will need to prevail.  For that reason, they surround themselves with other forward thinking and like minded individuals.  Some of these individuals may be local and others may only be accessible virtually over the internet.

Regardless of where they are located, the vast majority of preppers seek others in a respectful and open-minded manner.  They know that when the going gets tough, they will have someone to share with and together they will watch each other’s backs.

10.  Faith and Optimism

Faith and optimism go hand in hand.  Whether that faith is tied to organized religion or not, it is there none the less.  Coupled with the will to live, having faith is what keeps us going.  It allows us to put one foot in front of the other and to keep moving forward, one baby step at a time.  Some will pray while others will quietly reflect in their own manner.

Faith is important. Without it, you may falter.

The Final Word

It took me awhile to come up with this list.  I pondered the top traits of the preppers I know while taking a quiet hike along the trails near where I live.  I thought about the hundreds if not thousands of emails I have received these past few years and boiled down the experiences that have been shared with me into these ten things that preppers simply get right.

Chances are that you possess a majority of these traits of successful survivalists and prepper-types.  In fact, you may have these traits and, until now, did not even know it.  Today I would like to challenge you to look at this list and to evaluate your own top prepper traits.  Celebrate those that you have and cultivate those that may need work.  At the end of the day, if the world goes to heck, you will find that having these traits will allow you to prevail, if not in comfort, then at least in safety.

I invite you to share any traits I may have missed in the comments area below.  And blessings to all of you in your pursuit of preparedness.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye Levy, also known as the Survival Woman, grew up and attended school in the Greater Seattle area. After spending many years as an executive in the software industry, she started a specialized accounting practice offering contract CFO work to emerging high tech and service industries. She has now abandoned city life and has moved to a serenely beautiful rural area on an island in NW Washington State. She lives and teaches the principles of a sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle through her website at At Backdoor Survival, Gaye speaks her mind and delivers her message of prepping with optimism and grace, regardless of the uncertain times and mayhem swirling around us.