“Prepping” on a Budget

by David Morris on September 15, 2011

Welcome to this week’s Urban Survival Newsletter, brought to you by Greg Schmidt’s You Are Prepared.

Urban Survival Skills

You Can Learn When Money’s Tight

Before I talk about what we’ll cover this week, I wanted to let you know about Greg Schmidt’s tell-all preparedness presentation. Greg is the brother of my good friend and founder of the United States Concealed Carry Association, Tim Schmidt. His video tells you how to save money and time by learning the ‘bottom-line’ preparation tactics you must follow. You don’t want to miss this!
Go check it out here:

This week, we’re going to talk about how to get prepared for disasters when you find yourself already in “survival” mode.

Sometimes life can throw you a curveball and make preparations difficult.  It can be difficult because of finances, health, family issues, or any combination of things.  In fact, a lot of people who are switched on and see trouble on the horizon are already in a sort of survival mode.  I hear from people on a daily basis who see trouble coming, but are on Social Security or who just got laid off and don’t have money for buying lots of supplies.

And I hear from others who aren’t in that extreme of a situation, but who are barely making it with the income and expenses they have right now, without additional survival prep expenses.

But if you’re in either of those situations, that doesn’t excuse you from making continual forward progress on your preparations.

The risks that we face to our way of life don’t care about whether or not we’re ready.  I don’t think I’m going to get a call before an EMP, terrorist attack, an economic crash, or earthquake to make sure that my family is all set. And I doubt you will either.  These risks don’t really concern themselves with whether or not my 3 year old is having screaming fits during the day and my 9 month old is teething all night…again.

These things just happen when they happen.

They happened to a student from Missouri who was going through the SurviveInPlace.com course awhile back.  She emailed in about some rough financial times they were going through and how everything seemed to conspire against them at the same time.  Long story short, they kept making forward progress on their preparations and got through their rough patch.  They didn’t think they would, but they did.

Financial situations can turn on a dime, and that’s one reason why it’s so important to focus on survival skills instead of just focusing on survival “stuff.”  Some stuff is important, and it definitely helps compensate for a lack of skill and/or makes survival tasks easier.  But the great thing about focusing on skills instead of stuff is that you can practice one survival skill or another no matter what your current situation is.

In fact, one way that you can and look at your situation if you’re currently in “survival” mode is that if a catastrophic event happens, your life won’t be disrupted as much as it could be.  I often game EMP (electromagnetic pulse) events in my head.  When I do, one of the things that I always think of is how tribal people around the world who live without electricity won’t even know that anything happened.  They’ll just go on with everyday life like normal.

A lot of the survival skills that these tribal people use are free or next to free to practice.  You might want to make a list and make a goal of doing one of these every day.  If not every day, at least try to do one each weekend.

11 Survival Skills That Are Free or Inexpensive To Learn and Practice

Fire: Practice making a fire from tinder, kindling, and one match.  Move on to using flint and steel, flint, magnesium & steel, a Blast Match, or a fire piston (diesel).  Then, move on to a bow drill.  This is all stuff that you can do in your back yard.  I practice this with my 3 year old.  He likes watching the sparks, seeing the smoke, and he REALLY likes getting smores as soon as I’ve made fire.  As a note, when I’ve got ideal tinder, I’ll use a sparking device, but if I don’t have perfect tinder, I prefer using a bow drill and a nice big coal.

Think you can’t do this?  I’ve even taught people how to light tinder with a spark in a hotel room bathroom with a piece of aluminum foil protecting the floor.  Do this at your own risk.  I’ve got to especially warn you not to make enough smoke to set off a smoke detector OR set anything on fire.

Char cloth: Char cloth is basically very thin pieces of charcoal made out of 100% cotton.  It will take a spark almost immediately, burn hot, and burn quite awhile.  Here’s a QUICK how-to guide to make your own.

Take a 100% cotton shirt, sheet, or any other piece of 100% cotton and cut it into 1 or 2 inch squares.  Then, drop the cotton squares into a CLEAN tin can until it’s full & cover it with heavy aluminum foil.  You can secure the aluminum foil with baling wire, but it’s not vital as long as the foil is on tight.  Next, poke a small hole in the top of the foil and put the can into a pile of hot coals.  Smoke should start coming out of the hole within a couple of minutes.  This is smoke and methane and the smoke will be flammable (you can light it if you want).  Within 5-10 minutes, the smoke should stop coming out of the hole.  When this happens, take the tin can out of the coals and let it cool.  When it’s cool, take the foil out and pull a square out.  If it’s all ash, it means that air got into the can and you just need to try again.  If not, then the cotton got hot without oxygen, turned black, you should be good to go!  (This is how charcoal is made, and you essentially end up with small, thin pieces of charcoal) Take a piece, use a sparking device to throw a spark at it and play with your new toy 🙂

The skills you’ll develop making char cloth are a solid foundation for making charcoal AND for making a gassifier.  In one of it’s simplist forms, a gassifier is a contraption that allows you to extract methane from wood and use it to run a generator.

Solar heating: Have an old satellite dish?  Coat it with mylar or aluminum foil to reflect and focus sunlight and practice cooking, boiling water, making char cloth, and starting fires with it.  This will get HOT…hot enough to burn you, so be careful.  Don’t have a satellite dish?  Look for them in dumpsters and on the curb on big trash pickup days.  This will work with old full sized satellite dishes or parabolic dishes as small as a Coke can.  The bigger the dish, the hotter they’ll get.

Hunting, alarms, traps & snares: Have mice?  Practice trapping or making intrusion alarms.  Have sparrows, starlings, or other “pest” birds?  Practice your blowgun, slingshot, or bb skills.

Water filtration: Have a bucket you can cut a hole in?  Practice making a water filter out of gravel, pea gravel, sand, and activated charcoal (or non-chemically treated charcoal).  Run water through it and see how it tastes.  I’ve got a picture & more info here: secretsofurbansurvival.com/321/fire-and-water-in-an-urban-survival-situation/

Stockpiling: Yes…it’s a skill.  And you should be good at it.  Some of the immediate benefits are saving money and never running out of diapers, toilet paper, dog food, paper towels, etc. this side of a disaster.  It also means fewer rushed trip to the store for emergency items.  It also means fewer conversations that go something like, “Honey…did you remember to bring home the xxxx that I asked you to pick up.  We’re out.”  Whether we ever experience a catastrophic, life changing event or not, my family’s lives are better because we stockpile.

Don’t have emergency water stored up yet?  If you drink soda, start keeping all of your empty plastic bottles, whether they’re big or small.  Wash them out with soap & hot water & put water and a little chlorine in them until you’ve got a few gallons per person.

Don’t have emergency food stored up yet?  At LEAST buy some beans, rice, & oatmeal.  If you want to splurge, get SPAM & instant potatoes (one of my current favorite camping meals.)  If you can’t afford to stock up and you aren’t already eating beans, rice, and oatmeal then consider eating beans, rice, and oatmeal for a week or so and using the money you save to stock up.

Do you eat beef?  Even though parts of the country received record rain this year, other places, like Texas and parts of Colorado, have had a historic drought and heat.  Enough so that ranchers are selling off their cattle rather than trying to find affordable water and hay to feed them.  So, even though beef prices are roughly 30% higher than they were a year ago, we’ve got a short term drop in prices as ranchers liquidate their stock.  Of course, once this liquidation period is done, if supplies go down and demand stays the same, prices will shoot through the roof.  So, if you’ve got a deep freeze, you may want to consider buying half or a quarter of a cow or going in with some friends to buy a whole cow.

Situational Awareness: Try to continually be aware of what’s going on around you.  Identify people who are potential threats and quickly game out in your head what they might do and what your reaction would be.   When you’re simply an honest person walking down the street, any violent confrontation that you can spot and avoid in advance, is a violent confrontation that you’ve won.

Identify situations that are dangerous, like doors swinging into walkways, blind corners, ice hanging off of a building, skateboarders getting pulled by a dog on a leash, etc.

Practice reading body language…both good AND bad.  Watch couples in love.  Watch people arguing.  Watch people reacting to babies and puppies.  Pay particular attention to people’s eyes and the movement of the skin around their eyes.

Watch people you work with throughout the day—how does their posture, facial expressions, and the pitch of their voice change when they’re tired, excited, caffeinated, hungry, on a sugar high, stressed, etc.  Study people you know so you can read people you don’t know.  And remember…it’s not cut-n-dry…it’s an art based on science.

Negotiating: get in the habit of asking for discounts.  Sometimes people will give a discount for no reason, but usually you need to give them a reason.  It could be that you’re buying a damaged or opened item, buying in quantity, buying something expired or close to expiring, or some other reason.

At farmers’ markets, if one of something is 50 cents, ask if they’ll do 3 for a dollar.  The biggest thing is to get in the habit of negotiating.  It’s a basic life skill that will pay you back for the rest of your life.  And, it is a VITAL skill for any survival situation where you’re going to be around other people.

(If you’re interested in learning more about Urban Survival Bartering and Negotiating, please go to:  secretsofurbansurvival.com/272/urban-survival-barter-and-improvised-weapons/

Also, if you have any other urban survival skills that are free and EASY to learn and practice, please share them with the other readers by commenting below.  They could have to do with pure survival, like fire, water, shelter, and food.  They could have to do with medical or security issues.  They could revolve around products and or services that you can make for barter purposes.  There are 2 VITAL survival skills in particular that I’m looking for.  And I’ll send out a deck of Urban Survival Playing Cards to the first two people who point them out.

David Morris
SurviveInPlace.com / UrbanSurvivalPlayingCards.com


Facebook Comments
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

+5 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliff
September 16, 2011 at 9:58 am

this is one of your better articles and I send it to every body I know. thanks so much.

one thing I add to this is practicing fire building with one hand. Put the Blast Match away and see if you can build the tinder bundle, fire base, and start it with one hand. How many different ways can you start a fire with one hand? can you do it in the cold? can you do it in rain? higher than normal winds? If you are right handed, can you do it left handed?

make a game out of it with friends/family. actually have them tie your hand behind your back. have contests.

After doing this a few times, my fire making kit is a bit different than when I started a few years ago. see if yours change.

thanks again for a great article!


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Spiritryder
September 20, 2011 at 8:58 am

here’s a twist-use your opposite hand…if you’re right-handed, use your left, and vice versa. You never know what could happen, and we usually use our dominant hand to defend ourselves or loved ones.

I learned to write and eat opposite handed (I am a ‘righty’)-two of my siblings are left handed.

Also, attempt the task blindfolded, or with dark glasses to minimize vision. As always, please remember to do this with others around for safety’s sake.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Michele
September 16, 2011 at 10:00 am

I print off excellent articles (like this one) to put in my survival library. Some things I maybe can’t practice free, but I can read about or watch videos (making medicinal silver, tanning rabbit hides, butchering). I do my regular cooking in my solar oven so I know how to use that. I get a lot of free food for my stockpile using coupons.
Dryer lint makes a good fire starter as well, & it’s free to start saving that.


+3 Vote -1 Vote +1Lester
September 16, 2011 at 10:03 am

Try to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s always free to walk or jog in public.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Frances Price
September 16, 2011 at 10:04 am

Foraging skills or plant identification


Vote -1 Vote +1Ken
September 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

Great tip on making your own charcoal ribbons. I am going to try it this weekend.


Vote -1 Vote +1THUNDER
September 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

Another good fire starter is lint from your dryer . Put it in a sandwich bag , easy to store , light wgt. Can also add lighter fluid for wet conditions , seal well .


Vote -1 Vote +1Tess
September 26, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I add protroleum jelly with my lint. hen I leave to do trees/farm chores, I take water and a snack incase I have to run for shelter and am delayed in getting home. (cell phone and dog along much of the time too for added protection from mad coyote, and new mommy bobcats).


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1jay
September 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

In future survival situations, it is conceivable that the power grid will be down at the same time that civil unrest and riots are occuring. If you need to cook food the smoke from a fire will advertise to looters that you might have food and bring them snooping. To minimize this risk, you can cook using a rocket stove. They are fairly easy to build with bricks, (more advanced versions are for sale) The advantage of a rocket stove is that the design causes wood or charcoal to burn more completely making a hotter fire with less smoke, and shortens cooking time. Here is a link on youtube showing how to easily build one.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
September 16, 2011 at 10:33 am

I LOVE rocket stoves…and most on youtube are way over engineered. Since I love to over engineer stuff, this doesn’t bother me, but it does make them seem more complicated than they really are.

My favorite is simply a salvaged laptop computer fan, a short length of pipe, and a 9v battery.


Vote -1 Vote +1Michael
September 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

I enjoyed learning once again how to make char cloth. I remember years ago doing this as a project in the Boy Scouts. Another excellant firestarter is to use the lint removed from your cloths dryer. Simply hit that with a spark an you have your fire.


Vote -1 Vote +1Brien
September 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

I think that some basic medical skills and supplies are vitally important to survival in a SHTF world. I got a doctor friend of mine to show me basic wound suturing techniques. Using a simple set of forceps and tweezers, I can now close up most any kind of small laceration. I bought several boxes of suturing needles and gut/thread. So I am set there to suture up family, friends, even myself, or trade/barter these skills for other items or services.

Also, since antibiotics would be hard if not impossible to obtain, I have invested in a simple colloidal silver generator. It can be operated on house current or batteries. Colloidal silver is considered a viable alternative to antibiotics. It is a proven anti-microbe agent. Properly prepared, it has been used successfully for both prophylactic and curative control of bacterial infections of all kinds. Again, with a supply of CS I can help myself, family, friends, and trade/barter for what I need but may not have.


Vote -1 Vote +1Ron
September 16, 2011 at 10:55 am

Great article,have about 6 month supply just in case.My problem is everybody I talk to think that things are going to get better,boy are they dreaming.They think I’m over reacting.The one thing that I have really compiled is ammo for my guns.I hope and pray it never comes to that.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Danette Zak
September 19, 2011 at 10:09 pm

We have decided that when the FEMA trailers/food banks open up, that we would go there and get a few items so as to through off the neighbors ideas that we have food/supplies, we wouldn’t take a lot, because we are overweight truckers, but this way the neighbors hopefully won’t get suspicious. And as you have touched on here, we have to get into the mindset that in a time of desperation, we might have to kill others in order to survive. It’s not a pleasant thought, but it’s something that has to be considered.


Vote -1 Vote +1Tess
September 26, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Most my neighbors have 3 weeks to 3 months food supplies and provisions for water longer than that (I live in a farming community). The folks in town just 3 miles away are not as prepared – especially the younger ones. The older ones are mostly always prepped for winter and warm shortages.


Vote -1 Vote +1David M Green
September 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

Great article, thanks!
I would recommend getting at least a modicum of first aid training, while this can be expensive there are many opportunities to self educate or to get the training for free. Volunteering for an organization that provides first aid certification is an excellent way to become involved in making your community a better place and receiving life saving education at the same time. Of course the training would need to be coupled with a simple starter kit of materials and ensuring you build a basic practical knowledge of your new found skills through simple practice.

David M Green


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Valerie Bate
September 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

I have been learning about herbs and plants as medicine. I have lots of seeds for various herbs that I have ordered. I did plant some this year but tornado and heat killed them. I have books about this topic so I can learn more all the time. I use this skill, small as my knowledged is so far, now in my daily life so I believe it’s valuable even if nothing ever hits the fan.


Vote -1 Vote +1Matthew Robertson
September 20, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Did you lose your house in the Joplin tornado? Just curious, I am from Joplin as well. It is kinda cool to see other people from my area reading up on this. Have you heard if the county is going to be doing any Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program training in our area?


Vote -1 Vote +1Bill
September 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm

CERT training is great…I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know until I went through it.
I’m in the Lincoln County area and our Scout Troop (Pack 390) was the first to train in a camping setting…Mark Rosenblum is the major mover and shaker for the St. Charles area and beyond. He should be very easy to find on this web thing, and he would be able to suggest possible contacts if he’s not available in your area.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1John Hanna
September 16, 2011 at 11:59 am

Hello, great article.
One food storage item that is often overlooked is shortening. A heavy concentration of calories and still cheap even though for me it is survival only food. I also like powdered protean and do eat that regularly.
I think that the most important item that city folk tend to overlook is good hiking boots. They need to be broken in before you rely on them.
A training exercise would be to walk a wooded area at night to get used to moving in the dark without a flashlight.
And the best forage food in middle Florida where there is no standing water (swamp and beach always has food) is acorns. They have to be ground and rinsed until the bitterness is gone, 20 to thirty times, but the tasty flour is as useful and as nutritious as cornmeal.
My wife can shoot. I stand there and negotiate while she looks cute and stupid but if things go bad she plugs em which I hope comes as enough of a surprise.


Vote -1 Vote +1CURMUDGEON
September 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm



Vote -1 Vote +1Spiritryder
September 20, 2011 at 9:24 am

Good one, Curmudgeon!

I only use organic coconut oil…what a difference it has made. Food tastes better. here’s a link for coconut oil…http://products.mercola.com/coconut-oil/.

coconut oil has a long shelf-life @ 2 yrs, according to this article. I purchase the gallon size because the container has a snap-tight lid that can be used for other things once the oil is used up. Also, the oil is temperature affected-meaning the oil will harden in cooler weather…when it’s warm, the oil will become liquid. In the gallon container, made of PBA-free plastic, the oil will not leak or spill out, which makes it a good alternative when needing to ‘bug out’.


Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
September 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

Good luck using a gallon 🙂 We also use cocount oil and Joe Mercola is a personal friend. We have bought both from him and “Spectrum” brand from Whole Foods.


Vote -1 Vote +1Tess
September 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I freeze extra virgin olive oil. Thaw out and I am good to go. I also store 5 large lard (Crisco), but don’t use it very much in day to day cooking. I figure I could always barter with it if I don’t need it all. I know how to cook with lard, but most of our meals do not call for it. When I get the pinto beans going again, that is when I will appreciate the lard.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Pete Crackel
September 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

David, recommend folks join a bartering club or group. The idea is to get you out of the dollar for value mentality into, “What product or service can I provide for something of equal value that I need?” I traded a old painting for 2 hours of carpentry around the house. Next, I’m going to trade teaching income property analysis for a week in a vacation timeshare, I hope. Thanks for the terrific article.


Vote -1 Vote +1mark
September 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Debris hut, or “leaf-pile fort” for the kids. Exposure is the number one killer. Learn to make one before you need one. Try sleeping in one on a summer backyard campout, then try it in the rain. In little time you’ll learn how to build one that will keep you warm, dry and alive in the worst weather…just ask the squirrels.

The same principals of creating dead air space can be applied with cardboard, newspaper etc. In an urban high-rise with no power or heat, or maybe in a broken down car on the side of the road. Children especially need to learn this. More than one kid lost in the woods has survived because they knew even a little bit of this basic skill.


+3 Vote -1 Vote +1Liza
September 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I’ve used a solution of 1/3 clorox to 2/3’s for soaking
infected wounds including a staff infected wound. The result was
an astounding improvement toward healing after soaking within the following
24 hours. If it’s a very stubborn wound, you can repeat the soaking.
This can be done to rid wounds of infection and to rinse
a new wound before bandaging.

If you are medically knowledgeable, build your own first aid emergency kit, and
include dental tools (if you know how to use them), splinting supplies for a broken limb,
bandages and sanitary napkins for deep puncture or bleeding wounds plus non-latex
bandaging. Also, if you’re aiming to help yourself and others in an emergency, be sure you
include things for protection (yours and theirs) such as non-latex gloves, and supplies to prevent spread of diseases and infection by blood-born pathogens and container to dispose of bio-hazard waste.

If you’re going to go foraging or find yourself stuck outdoors in an emergency, it’s best to try preventing insect bites, but along with the Deet, pack a plain unscented stick of deoderant to your first aide kit for relief of itching from flying insect bites such as mosquitoes. Stops the itching almost instantly!
Domoboro is excellent for itching from poison oak, Poison ivy, or sumac.
Other topical itchy skin irritations may be relieved by bathing in a salt & vinager bath or
applying a salt/vineager paste.

There are so many things to prepare for and it’s difficult if not impossible to prepare
for all situations, but whatever we can do is helpful during a emergency crises.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Liza
September 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Correction: the solution is 1/3 clorox to 2/3’s water.


+6 Vote -1 Vote +1Cagey
September 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I’m 71.I’m a mountain man,long-range shooter,combat shooter,belted martial artist,and perpetual boy-scout.Along with a tool list,stored food,learned skills,solar stuff,guns and ammo,there were two things that I would add to my list of requisites: A positive attitude predicated on the fact that after the SHTF,nothing will ever be the same,but you and yours can and will survive thru your preparedness.The second would be a radical shift in your mind-set.You will now become a warrior-predator.You must embrace the fact that should it become necessary to end someone’s life,or to take it,that you are up to the task-without hesitation.’Nuff said.


Vote -1 Vote +1Jack
September 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Hello David,
A couple of things that I havent heard you mention yet would be education and entertainment. In some situations or possible scenerios that I could imagine, life might not return to normal for years possibly. In this case, we should consider at least basic education for the children. Some early grade level reading and math books might come in very handy. Another consideration might be for entertainment. To fill this need look at possibly some musical instruments, board games, playing cards and dominoes etc. True, these things might not be as important or as immediate as having something to eat, but in case of an extended state of emergency or perhaps the new normal way of life, they might be very useful.
In the event of an extended state of emergency, a still might be a very useful tool and there are plans and info on the internet for building them. It could be used for making many things all the way from distilled water to distilled liquor and even fuel. The basic tools and the knowledge of how to use them (along with recipes etc.) might prove very valuable in the future. Note, however, that it is currently unlawful in all 50 states to distill liquor even for personal consumption, so use discretion if you should ever decide to use your tools.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1tim
September 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm

if you know a catastrophe is imminent, fill your coolers with water and every bucket you have. it will be much easier to filtrate than groundwater and could even be used to flush toilets. we have a septic system so its a luggable loo and dumped in the septic tank for me.
dont forget your downspouts for collecting rainwater. I like the dryer lint idea I will be trying that out shortly.

thanks folks, keep em coming


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Karl W
September 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm

As a former EMT, I have a bias towards the importance of first aid & basic emergency medical skills. Knowledge of CPR & controlling bleeding can make the difference between life and death. There are a number of CPR regimes but they all have a few things in common – artificially circulating oxygenated blood during periods of heart arrest. Check out the American Heart Association (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/) for the most widely accepted protocols for CPR. Controlling bleeding is best managed with direct pressure, elevation of the injury above the level of the heart and, in extreme cases, use of pressure points or tourniquets. Study of the techniques, clotting aids, anatomy & physiology will help learn the practical skills for blood loss control. Getting over the gore of wounds can be the toughest part of mastering bleeding control.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Reginia
September 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I am always surprised at how many people can’t swim even if you don’t like the water or never get very good at it everyone should learn the basics. This is a survival skill everyone should learn. Find a friend to teach you and go to the lake.


Vote -1 Vote +1Tad
September 16, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Great artilce! I would add that learning to make different survival shelters (lean to, debris, snow, desert, etc), that way, no matter where you are, you can protect yourself and your family from the elements.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Sue the Frugal Survivalist
September 16, 2011 at 3:57 pm

In a long term survival situation, where food supplies won’t be delivered to your state’s grocery stores, and local supplies of food are gone, the ability to recognize food plants when you see them, could save your family. You’d be surprised at the number of people who would’t recognize a potato plant, pepper or tomato. Many can’t recognize a grape vine, walnut tree, or berry vine. If you need to forage a suburban landscape to survive,or relocate to a rural area to live off the land, it would sure help if you could spot food when it’s in front of you. How many of your readers would recognize the plants of food crops grown in their area?


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Suzanne
September 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I don’t believe that most people give enough thought to medical concerns beyond basic first aid. If you have a chronic medical condition (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.) that is managed with pharmaceuticals you must either stock up on your meds (not always possible or practical since some things, like insulin, require uninterrupted refrigeration and most meds will eventually expire) or find substitutes. Herbs can sometimes substitute for your prescription drugs but growing or otherwise obtaining them in a SHTF situation may be difficult or impossible. To prepare for TEOTWAWKI I believe we should do everything possible to build and improve our health. Despite what the FDA and the rest of the allopathic medical community tells us alternative health care offers the best chance for healing drug dependant illnesses. Even diabetes and severe heart disease can be cured if you are willing to do your research and seek out the doctors who can help without using drugs. Exercise, improve your diet, get enough rest and brush and floss your teeth every day. You’d be amazed at the many illnesses that originate in the mouth. And when routine dental care is unavailable you’ll be happy that you took care of your teeth. So be sure to see your dentist on a regular basis while you still can; the day may soon come when you’ll appreciate those routine visits.


+3 Vote -1 Vote +1sylvia
September 16, 2011 at 6:08 pm

If your electricity goes out for days you may need to wash some clothes. Keep a clean toilet plunger on hand and use it to agitate your clothes in the bathtub with a little detergent. Also I have used colloidal silver for years. I have my own generator, which I purchased, but you can get plans on internet to make your own generator. It has saved me many doctor bills and lost time from work. It kills hundreds of different kinds of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. An antibiotic usually kills one or two kinds of bacteria and it is hard to get anything that is effective for a cold or other virus. Big Pharma cannot make money on it so they push pharmaceuticals. But one should never get the idea that it is not very effective. Works fast! Safer too. Before penicillin it was about all they had.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Shannon
September 16, 2011 at 6:14 pm

In an urban situation how about lock pick gun and a small pry bar just in case what you need is behind a locked door? Also I like what cagey said!


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
September 21, 2011 at 9:56 am

Yes 🙂 I don’t carry a pick gun, but I do have a small pick set on or near me all the time.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1CoryB
September 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Here’s a great firestarter, especially in wet, windy and cold conditions when you need the flame to last as long as possible to get tinder going:
Take a cottonball and smear petroleum jelly in it so all cotton is wet with it. Can do this to enough cotton balls to fill a 35mm film container and you’ll have enough for many many fires.

(Important note: Use 100% natural cotton balls. The ones that aren’t 100% natural are usually non-flamable and won’t catch flame at all. I suppose dryer lint could even work in place of the cotton ball if you wanted)

How you use it to catch fire: take the 100% cotton ball that’s been smeared with petroleum jelly, pull it apart a couple or few times to get what looks like a bad hair day where you pulled it apart. Set it down on where you want to start your fire with bad hair day facing upwards. Apply spark to the bad hair day.. doesn’t matter what you use to make the spark.

What you end up with is a flame that’s almost water and wind proof and that will last many many times longer than just igniting a dry cotton ball.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1sbrogdon
September 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Food production and preservation are high on my list of survival skills. The more food I produce, meat, veggies, fruit, and preserve through canning, dehydrating etc the better off I am. I try not to freeze foods. If the electricity goes out your food goes bad.
I also try to learn alternative medicines when practicle. i.e. I gargle with hydrogenperoxide at the first sign of a sore throat, no need to see a Doctor and no need to buy antibiotics. I have cured strept throat 3 times this way. I’d be REAL carefull using herbs, you cannot measure the strength of each dose. As a professional Paramedic for 28 years I have treated a lot of people for unintentional overdoses from herbs.


+3 Vote -1 Vote +1Marc
September 16, 2011 at 8:49 pm

OK, I will give you some simple ones- using plastic bags. You can find these for free! A large trash bag-30 to 50 gallon makes a good rain coat cut out sleeves for for arms and head. A plastic grocery tied over you head like bandanna make good emergency rain hat. use tow plastic grocery bags for you feet inside you socks to keep you feet dry and warm. I have seen the homeless and day labors do this four years. Use the 60 gallon or bigger for a group tarp or blanket sleeve.
Emergency band-aids and anapestic- Use alcohol based hand cleaning gel for wound cleaning works well, I have used it on fishing boats. Duct tape with paper napkin folded over four times make great band-aid. If you are having to keep it dry use part of a plastic grocery bag. Great item easily found.
Emergency food rations- Keep at a least 6 ketchup packs in you car or just collect them in day pack-(MC Ds), you need one pack of salt, one of pepper (KFC), get 1 pack of sugar 1 of powder creamer mix with hot water to about 10 OZ and it makes a good Tomato soup, that will get you to your next meal. This an old poor college student trick.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1savingandsurviving
September 17, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Everyone has had great ideas but there are two things that are needed before all others; the right mental attitude and the physical ability to take care of yourself and hopfully others. If you “loose it” when things fall apart all the food, water, guns, ammo and medical supplies does you no good. Practice getting worked up, surprised, upset, or over tired and then focusing on a task that requires calm concentration. You have to keep it together to survive a disaster. Next is that you need to be in decent shape. If you are overweight or have severe physical disabilities try to get this in check. Loose weight and start exercising, if you have disabilities try to practice skills to find a way to work around your disabilities. You need to be able to take care of yourself.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1janice
September 18, 2011 at 10:03 am

A couple thoughts on the food situation.Beef-our local butcher at our favorite store told me prices will go through the roof a month ago-in about 20 to 30 days.It seems we are sending our beef to Japan and creating our own shortage along with the drought caused shortage.Isee it here in the ads today.Peanut butter-Our local meijer store has a note posted where their own brand should be saying that due to the floods there is a shortage of peanuts and they are having to sub with walmarts brand.Time to buy up for your kids people!But don’t buy spartan brand.We have discovered with jars stored more than 2 months it seperates and trying to get it back to some semblence of a normal consistancy is almost impossable.I think we all need to be aware their is a major food crisis coming.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
September 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm


This is one of the exercises that I included in the surviveinplace.com course and it’s VERY valuable to go through.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Danette Zak
September 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm

There is a Canadian on youtube (can’t think of his name) that shut off his electricity/water use for 5 days. His wife wasn’t too happy to do it, but they both did it and learned a lot from it. He had recorded several snippets of his 5 days experience. Good thing to do and to learn from.


Vote -1 Vote +1bill
September 18, 2011 at 8:05 pm

this is good to know stuff thanks


Vote -1 Vote +1Ron G
September 18, 2011 at 10:26 pm

This was a great article. I the comments were excellent as well.
It is great reading the excellent ideas about skills and uses for
ordinary things are fascinating.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Martin
September 19, 2011 at 8:59 pm

When TSHTF, don’t rely on the possibility of finding game. Everybody else is thinking the same thing, and without limits and regulations, the game and fish will go quickly. From what I’ve read, that’s exactly what happened during the Great Depression.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
September 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

This isn’t a scientific analysis, but with the decline in the number of hunters, tags, and game being taken, I’m not sure how many people have the ability to cleanly take game. Unfortunately, I think it’s fairly likely that we’ll see a big kill-off of game, but that most of the “kills” will be a result of gut shots and infection and not clean kills…which means fewer animals AND still hungry people.


+3 Vote -1 Vote +1Joyce from Loris
September 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I, too, love the Fox Fire books. They are full of information! We live on a two hundred acre farm, way in the woods, and about 15 miles away from the nearest town of 2500 people. We are working daily on our survival skills, but as farmers, we already have most of them. We have a pond and a lake that flows through our property, so we have fish and the tools to catch them with. We have deer, turkey, ducks, squirrels and rabbits. We already grow and can our food, and I have identified the wild foods and healing herbs in our woods. We have a well, which we can easily convert to a hand pump, and we have a septic tank, but we sure do remember the old outhouses! This winter, my projects will be to learn how to cook on an outside fire pit and we are planning on getting some chickens. God bless and help us all.


Vote -1 Vote +1Spiritryder
September 20, 2011 at 9:01 am

Good info in this article…my question is after you treat the 100% cotton, how can it be stored? What type of container do you recommend? I will make an attempt to create these charcoal squares…



+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
September 21, 2011 at 9:52 am

I simply keep them in a zip lock bag, although many people keep them in “tins” that breathmints come in.


+3 Vote -1 Vote +1Iforgot
September 25, 2011 at 3:13 am

Most people think only homeless people dig in dumpsters, that’s why a friend of mine does it every day. He was laid off about a year ago, so he’s made an art form of dumpster diving, and I give him money for anything that he finds that I can use, unless he wants to keep it:o I get all kinds of things for next to nothing, from food(lunchmeat,crackers,pastries,pies,cake,fish,bread,5lb bags of sugar that weren’t sealed correctly?brand new fans & weed whackers that were missing a screw or nut, returned to the store and promptly deposited in the dumpster out back!) you name it I’ve probably bought it! And he’s also become the goto guy if someone needs their garage,attic, or backyard cleaned up! it’s amazing what people will throw away. He has several others that will buy his “finds” if I don’t, then, if it’s metal, and nobody wants it, he makes run to the recycling place. he’s been able to keep gas in his little truck and his rent paid, and I’ve got alot of stuff to eat, sell or barter, or use (if my other weedeaters quit!) and I gave pennies on the dollar for it! Thankfully, I still have a job, but if I lose it, I’ve got options, for a while!


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tess
September 26, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Have an indoor and outdoor alternative to leave communications:
For example, date:—–, all safe – went to Dodge (xxx-xxx-xxxx).
Jack at hospital, Tess in Lucas. date________;
Check in with Mike XXX. – ;
——I keep spray paint and dry plywood for this reason if needed… —-Have arrangments for family to check extra car for messages – soap on window etc. We store a back up of two weeks supplies in trunk of Buick for easy grabbing in the event of emergency evacutation. We have a 3 day supply of provisions (ruff conditions-very basic) under house – only semi safe place near house from direct tornado hit (we live in Kansas).


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tess
September 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I keep about 25$ face junk silver on hand. Just in case the banks close up for awhile. I feel safer with using a safety deposit box. I have been harmed before, experienced burgluys etc in the past at another location. I just would rather not keep my PM in house in or too accessible. If I start to get nervous again , like last summer, I will fill up one of the safes (off site).

Because of risk of fire, tornado, thieft, I spread the coins and bars around a bit at different nearby cities (banks and work place, plus home). It is not the perfect plan, but that is the current status. Due to memory troubles, I do not bury PMs. The little bit I have hidden on the farm, are now misplaced. Just being honest – I am not perfect.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Lloyd
October 9, 2011 at 8:40 pm

2 thoughts on water and first aid…
1. Get some QR blood clotting powder for your first aid pack. Dad had the beginnings of leukemia, and had no white cells, thus no clotting ability. He had something get scratched one night while he was asleep, and bled all night w/o clotting, and then in the morning we tried one thing after another – no luck. I had heard of QR, and found some across town in a pharmacy – drove over, got it, went back home and poured just about 1/2 container on his (still) bleeding sore – in less than 2 minutes, it completely stopped bleeding! Fantastic.

2. For water filters, you can’t beat the ceramic silver-impregnated Sterasyl filters! If there are no bacteria or viruses or parasites in the water, a sand filter is great. Otherwise, you’re asking for trouble. There’s a guy named John who’s selling Sterasyl ceramic water filters on ebay really cheaply. These are what you need to get. We were missionaries in asia and used them in a rural ‘out-in-the-boonies’ environment for quite a few years. They filtered not only the dirt and sediment out, but also all the bugs and parasites. The villagers would get sick from the water, but we never did. It’s easy to make a 2-bucket filter system – I saw someone showing how he did it on utube the other day, and it was just like the ones we used. They really work, and you don’t get sick from the usual stuff in the water.


+2 Vote -1 Vote +1Nancy from Missouri
October 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

So far I haven’t seen anyone mention the skill of sewing! It could be used to make new clothes from material on hand or from old clothes, repair what you have or use it as a barter skill. My grandmother taught me when I was very young and I have made everything from suits (I was in retail management for a number of years) and coats to the simplest of things like pillowcases or reusable grocery bags. One hint for inexperienced sewers: pressing is just as important as sewing a straight seam! To keep the items from looking “homemade”, never sew two seams together without pressing them first! Which reminds me–I haven’t picked up a flat-iron yet!


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1DJ
November 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm

stock up on store brand OTC medications. You save about $2 or more by not buying popular brands and they all have the same proportions/amounts of ingredients.

I’v researched fish antibiotics (since they don’t require a prescription) and found that if your fish are deathly ill, they are much better to have around then nothing!! I have heard more good things about them then bad, so I have begun acquiring them.

I vaccume seal all of my medications for longer life and protection from the elements. Use the oldest first! FIFO! stay healthy!!


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1David Morris
November 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm

DJ…good stuff. On generics vs. brand names, keep in mind that while the active ingredients may be the same, the inactive ingredients are not and may cause allergic reactions or other problems in people who are sensitve to certain sweeteners, binding agents, anti-caking agents, etc.


+1 Vote -1 Vote +1DJ Denver CO
November 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Canning!!!! My better half and I spent the beginning of october canning apples from my neighbors tree. We made apple butter, apple sause, apple juice, apple jam and even apple-cinnamon syrup for pancakes!!

I also dehydrate my own home grown potatoes and carrots! I put them in canning jars with oxygen absorbers and use the accessary from my vaccume sealer for jars to vaccume seal them. So far they have lasted over a year. once you take out what you need for a meal, seal the jar again immediately.

Canned corn and green beans can also be dehydrated and stored this way! Use the large cans and you will get almost a full quart when dehydrated. Why buy what you can make yourself for about 1/4 the price!!


Vote -1 Vote +1Montego Man
April 26, 2012 at 10:55 am

I’m just getting caught up on these wonderful posts, filled with great and common sense ideas, and many are novel as well as practical. FYI – To get decent and a well rounded set of medical supplies, order from a medical catalogue. Get the most common items in bulk, and get refill kits. Next stop should be the local Wal-Mart and pick up their brand of ointments, etc. Also keep a small kit handy in you pack. I catch sales the local CVS for tape, bandages etc. You’ll find 101 uses for duct tape and electrical tape in a medical emergency (if you can’t suture someone us, duct tape works great if properly applied), as well as everyday items such as napkins and old cotton t-shirts. Don’t trash them. Wash them, cut them up with a pair of disinfected scissors, and place them in “freezer” bags for storage. They are good for all kinds of first aid needs as well as cleaning weapons. Don’t be so fast on trash things like most people are. I have a sizeable collection of items I’ve kept over the years that have come in handy, especially while prepping. Just use common sense and has some imagination and you’ll be better prepared and will have done so on the cheap.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: