Survival, Shelter, Fire, Water and Food

When a storm comes we do not think, is this the one? We do not consider is this Armageddon? No we hunker down and survive. We first must define what we are surviving. If it is a tornado, hurricane, tsunami, earthquake or similar natural disaster and we have survived the initial destroying factors, then we can come up with the basics to go on. We develop alternatives to survive, that will work in the short term. But the word Armageddon brings about a totally new scenario. There may initially be normal situations and sufficient fuels and systems that all types of survival may be possible. But, will the capability to replace used fuels be possible? Are public systems grinding to a halt? What are the alternatives? Will this be a God driven Armageddon or a man made disaster? Will things return to normal quickly or will it take years? Each of these questions requires a different answer and solution. We will look at several different situations and potential solutions. Think only of surviving and not of any other alternative.

First let us look at the natural disaster. A flood or tornado causes local damage, but it is possible to provide support from the outside very quickly. The short term becomes the definable need. In a hurricane like the one that hit the Gulf Coast of the United States a few years ago, people seemed to be driven back on their heels and unable to function. The movers and shakers left town and the people remaining were unable to take care of themselves. This was almost unbelievable. In cities there were barbecue restaurants. Many of these have barbecue pits that are mobile. Four men could have rolled these pits to the areas were people were congregating. Many grocery stores had frozen meat lockers were food was spoiling. This food could have been cooked and fed to the multitudes. There are numerous containers around the city that could have been used to make fire. Cooking was possible. Living was possible.

Some of the never-do-wells that rampaged the streets could have worked for the common good. But we have trained our youth to riot in times of civil disturbance or unrest, take what they want and then set and wait for help while drinking beer and coke. These people must be put to work early to channel their energy for the common good. Some police and military and firemen must stay and help the weak and the un-organized. Instead the Mayor was partying at one of the hotels. Some police that they thought were there did not exist. Problems were occurring on the streets. No you do not have to use guns to make people do something, but we do use guns for the common good and security of those that need security.

I picture the woman in a wheel chair, dead and covered with a sheet and left on the walk. The people in New Orleans had no shame. Of course people will die when major events occur. But then we care for their remains until we can normally bury them. People died for lack of electricity and cooling. These were in retirement homes and hospitals. There should have been a major effort to take care of this. Instead we watched our TVs unaware that nothing was being done.

How can so many people be unable to take care of their own environment? Water was ever where and people were without drinking water. People ravaged stores for food, and people were starving. One answer seems to be that the people, who know how to survive, either must stay and help or need to be moved back to the area quickly. Organization is necessary. From the resources available, survival is possible. Once the storm was over, it was possible to make fire and portable electrical units could have been brought in to support hospitals and elderly homes. People who died from exposure should have been provided warmth and comfort. People who were hungry should have been fed. I will say this over and over, do not wait for help. Take action to help yourself and those around you.

Numerous means of making fire ate available. The use of furniture as fire wood is a possibility. Trees, etc. will be available. From the various stores, there should be all types of gas camping stoves and grills and canisters of gas that may be used. Water can be easily filtered and boiled to provide drinking water. But no, people do nothing but sit waiting for rescue. Of course after a short time a large group of people will use up all the resources. This is predictable. In the case of a long term recovery, preservation and rationing of food starts from the beginning. Only then can we survive.

Armageddon will provide the next type of total collapse of mans ability to function. Man will sit and wait to die or for rescue which will not come. For those that chose to life the following will be a start, not a perfect nor an end solution. We all have to think. Armageddon will provide many different scenarios for one or many to survive. For us that believe in God we will continue to live. He may show us the end, but until then we must live. For some of us it will be smarter to move to a more survivable location, and these people will have or will put together bug out bags. This is a bag which will allow us to carry our individual survival gear to a new location. A large back pack comes to mind, but a duffel bag will work, and is suitcase is better than nothing, but is more difficult to carry. Hopefully it has strong wheels. Note, I said carry. There may not be a means of transportation. Transportation may also be a danger because of those without will be seeking to take yours. If you are planning to move, move early by vehicle or plan to move in darkness and by clandestine means. If you are in long lines of refugees then you will be subject to delay, theft and many other dangers. Try to protect yours and your own gear at all times. Do not become a victim, because you failed to prepare.

A thought about man made disaster. What if the current situation continues with the dollar weakening and the inflation continuing to grow? What if the economy breaks and completely comes to a halt? What will happen if your money is no good? No matter how much you have, you can not buy any thing. Quickly people will be rioting in the streets because they are hungry or seek to take everything they can before it is all gone. They Government will have no money, so it can do little or nothing. Even the Army needs pay. Only if people continue to work at the different companies that supply gas, oil, electricity, telephone, government, etc., can we continue to go on. A quick answer is to make their salaries the basis of barter. All others would come off of this basis. Fuel would go to those companies to continue to produce their product or service. Some people might end up without income and others would be over paid. Again the system would falter until something else is put into place or till everything fails. This would be a man made disaster. Are you ready? Prepare as long as you can before money and materials are gone.

First fire or shelter or both, we will need both so be prepared. With no way to make or replace gas, and no way to mine, it will not take long before there are no lighters or matches. Have more than one method to start a fire. Have tinder and some steel wool and a way to make a spark. An old lighter with extra flint or a sparker for a welding system come to mind. Of course a flint and piece of iron will work. A spark into very fine steel wool will start a fire. Into plain cotton it will start a smoldering burn which can be blown or fanned into a flame. Add small pieces of wood to cause your fire to grow. Do not waste all your starter material. Then most dry materials will burn and some wet materials will burn once exposed to a small. Even in a flood there is dry material. Something that is not under water may be use as fuel. Be careful of plastics and some coated woods. Some chemicals give off very toxic smoke or fumes. Do not kill your self or loved ones trying to stay warm. Keep your fire ventilated.

Next a surface to build our fire on is necessary. Any place of metal, rock, cement will do. Try to protect it from wind and rain and make sure it will not contain water. Sometimes even a roof top can be used for your fire, but the fire must be kept small. In the roof and along the edge there is flashing that is thin aluminum. Pull this loose and use it for the fire box. On top of a chimney there is a metal cover and screen, this may be used to build a fire. Just turn it upside down and build your fire in it. A small fire will burn here without damaging the roof or burning it up, forcing you into the water. Look for a metal griddle plate or large skillet to build your fire on or in. You may have to dive under water to retrieve it, but that is better than being cold. This makes a great surface for fire if you want safety. Find two and you have something to cook on. An umbrella will help keep your fire from going out. A golf umbrella is even better, but be careful, you may take off if the wind is high.

If it is still raining, you may have to wait, except on a roof where there is a slight dry spot caused by an overhang. Here is a place to build a small fire and a place to shelter. I would prefer to be on ground, not a roof. If the danger is flood, find a building. If the danger is earth quake or tsunami move to high ground, and find shelter. Exposure is a problem which must be met head on. In warm weather the concern is lessened, except for someone injured. Treat for shock. Some of us who are older can not stand up to the elements. The elders must be protected. If you do not believe in protecting the old, jump into the water and swim to another roof. This roof is for human beings. Or get off my world. Be careful of buildings. If there are explosions or earth tremors, a building could fall. Always be safe.

It is a matter of using your head. Even asphalt shingles will burn. Tear them into strips and light the edges. They will put off a smoky fire, but will provide warmth and the ability to boil water. Pavement will burn if it has enough tar. Tires will burn, but are somewhat toxic. Again, keep the area ventilated. Other materials will burn when wet, but you will have to think and use your head. Get others to use their heads, also. We can find a safe haven, to survive the initial occurrences of nature. Then, we must work to live. Sitting is not a venue. We do not wait for help. It may not come. You always seek to improve your situation. Put the older people to thinking. They have experience that can be used. If not on the current situation, have them think ahead. They can start the planning for the next need. Remember gas grills and ranges will still work. Maybe not the electrical, but the gas will light with a spark or small flame, a match.

If you live in the mud, you become wet and miserable. But with a little effort, we can get dry, raise our living area above the mud and at least have the best that we can have. Get off the ground quick if the ground remains wet. If the ground dries then work to get your bed above the ground or in such a place that you will remain dry if it does rain. Plan for the weather to be windy, and tie down things so that your new home is not blown apart. Tie down the temporary home if necessary. Plan your drainage. I have seen more than one Boy Scout washed away from a small creek developing in their tent. One of my young sons cost me a new camera when he left it on a bedroll in a tent and rain came. Yes, right next to a dry case and a dry bag. By the way, these two items are very valuable. A water proof case from Walmart will keep you matches and valuables dry. A dry bag or two will keep clothes dry and protect valuables. A small hand ax is also valuable on a roof. It provides a way to get back into the house to retrieve food and clothing and other needed survival materials. Again start thinking, and assume there is no one coming to rescue you.

How do you filter and make water drinkable? This was an important need during the New Orleans floods. Any cloth material is a start. Cheese cloth is great and folded several times it will remove most large particles from dirty water. You can pour the water through several times to get out the ugly waste. Of course you toss off the junk between pouring. You should plan to have some containers with lids. These are light and have many uses. Either take some small pots from the kitchen or plan ahead with some really good light weight cooking gear. Some plastic pans and pictures are also useful. The water may still be colored, but boiling will kill the bad germs, and letting the water sit to cool, will allow the material still in the water to settle. Careful pouring or sipping will allow us to have good pure water. With Fire and Water we are on the way to surviving. We have had to find some place to use as a temporary shelter. Next we need food for the long term and shelter. Before we leave temporary shelter, let's think a minute. In a high wind, we need something to protect us from the force of nature. Remember the beaches at Bolivar Island near Galveston? I think that is the area where only one house was still standing. I am sure some of those people thought their houses or at least the foundations would remain. I remember after Camele a few years ago a brick hotel was gone and a flat concrete foundation was all that was left. Only heavily reinforced concrete, designed to with stand both wind and water will still be there. There was a well designed hotel at Galveston, the Flagship, that had to be torn down because of wind and water damage. Do not plan to stay near the ocean. There is just too much water for the forces of nature to use. Do not stay near glass buildings. Things flying in the air will cause glass to become a missile. Get a couple of miles off the coast and get into a low concrete building. But not to low, you do not want to have to swim. If you are caught out in the open, get down. Even a bar ditch with some mud and water is better than standing up in a tornado.

In an Armageddon situation do not plan for the lights to come on or the gas to work. Plan to survive. You will need a place to live that remains safe. What is safe? We live in a world with some people who will take your food for their survival. We must plan for this. We live in a world where some groups/gangs will take all you have. We must prepare and we must survive. As the situation develops, we will see certain things happen. In populated areas, people will leave for safety of family retreats to get away from the people that take things. Others will ravage the area and then leave. Then comes a period when dogs, cats and wild animals will be looking for food because there is no one to feed them. This will be a dangerous time. There will be man hunters and animal hunters. Look out for both. Your safe haven must remain safe and easy to protect, away from trails, walks or streets that people will use. Do not stay if people are passing by all the time. It will be only a short period before someone visits, and it could spell disaster. This is a bad time. Pick friends carefully. If you live in the suburbs, there will be a time of great danger when the masses leave the city, and when the gangs are roaming looking for food. If you live in an area that is not easy to get to, and off the main roads, then you may be somewhat safe, but do not drop your security. Have a bug out plan, for a time when someone comes to visit. It is better to leave than court disaster. If you live out of the way and there are no houses for miles and only one road near by, then you may be safe.

If your neighborhood is empty, check the houses of neighbors and friends. If you know they have gone, and will not return. Feel free to take perishable and canned foods. You can leave them a note if you feel like a thief. Do not break into a fortified home. There may be someone there with a gun. The main thing is to expand your food supply. Local small stores and grocery stores that are abandoned become a source, but will not offer great foods. The good food like chili and other canned meals will go first. Some items will be foods that you do not like, either leave them or learn to like them. Survival is the game. Look for flower, sugar, salt, and anything that you can use to live short term and long term. If a can good has a label and you can use, take it. If it does not have a label, take it, but be prepared to have some unhappy surprises. If you prepared and have a long term supply, you will be in good shape, but be prepared to protect your food. If you laid in a supply of MREs (meals ready to eat) or other dried foods, you will be in good shape. Hunker down, and stay quiet. Do not attract attention.

Next we must save every food item that we have. If it will spoil, then dry or dehydrate it. Don't know how. Think. The sun will dry most foods if left in direct sun light. Protect from birds and animals. Make sure it can drain and can not rot. Roll it over to allow drying on all sides. A dehydrator is made from a light, a small fan and a box with drying shelves. Simple. Adjust it to make it work better. Again, use your head. Do this while there is electricity or plan to use it when you run your generator. Get a small solar cell charger. It will run a light and a fan during sunlight hours. Now is the time to make plans and find materials. You can find them after the disaster, but now is better, Buy a dehydrator and learn to use it. This is fun. Make your own trail mix. Next inventory your food and start planning all meals. Start saving everything and limiting what you eat. A diet is necessary to survive for the long term. Unless we conserve, we can not be insured that we will live. Do not go out and kill all the deer and birds in the area. You may need them next year, and all that jerky will just take up space. Plus fresh meat will become a delicacy. A word about shooting without a valid need to be shooting. First conserve ammunition. Use the smallest weapon you can. Learn to shoot now. You may need it later. A big gun makes a big noise and will bring unwanted visitors. Don't waste ammo. Ammunition may become a dear commodity. A big trading good, also, your survival may depend on it. And yes, you will need a hand gun and a small rifle, .22 or .223. Anything larger is for big game. A.45 hand gun is best for protection up close. If you need a rifle for protection, you will need many and must be in a group. In other words, if your enemy is armed and you only have a small rifle and a pistol consider bug out or surrender.

We can fit this basic approach into any scenario. We are not on a new planet or a deserted island. We are in the world we were born into, but some basic things may have changed. Gas and water lines may be destroyed and electrical line may be down. The lack of these three things will make our environment more difficult, but not unlivable. There should be plenty of shelter. Do not forget seeds. If you have an excess they will be tradable. If you have a great excess, then plant them everywhere. Wild vegetables will be great later, when you are hungry and when they are ready to harvest, harvest the seeds also.

If in the inner city, it will be more dangerous. Each area will have its own pitfalls and useful items. Most scenarios show the people leaving the city. But the country will not support the total population initially. Large groups will have to send back salvage groups to get what is left in the cities. After a time people will migrate back to the cities and barter will become the means of existence. Money is years down the road, except for silver, copper and gold and maybe the exotic metals like tin, aluminum and others that can be heated and reformed. Large supply centers warehouses may become barter centers. It may be a Walmart in a small town. A dollar bill will be worthless. Gold and silver will be only slightly better. Food, clothing, ammunition, maybe water will be some barter items. Weapons, bicycles, rope and similar items will also become very useful and will have worth. Horses and mules will become valuable, but they require food. You will have to plan for them also. Skills will become valuable. At some point every thing will be available for barter.

Coal or oil will have to be found to start an electrical or water system. Restarting these systems also requires a knowledge and material beyond most of our experience. Gas will be even more difficult to bring back on line. Look for alcohol systems to be more popular, as this fuel can be made at home. The stoves are simple and easy to fabricate. If you buy one today, it is expensive, but it will burn the fuel very well and does save fuel. Buy two or three and you will have some trade items. Learn how to make alcohol. It is not hard, and you may need it and can trade it. Another usable gas is methane. Look it up.

This can go on and on. Bio-fuels and alcohol will be important. Trade goods and skills will be important. Security will be important, and you may have to join with good people to survive. Becoming a judge of good is a good skill to develop. God willing, we will not get to this level of need. But it is wise to plan for the worse. We can always start saving for the next, with what we have not used, but starting too late, may cost us our lives and that of our loved ones.

One last item that we must consider is weather. We live in all different types of weather. Some of us live in desert conditions and some in deep snow country. We do not know when the world will come apart at the seams. But, like I have been saying, plan for the worst possible conditions. If it is summer, learn to live like our grandparents lived, before air conditioning. Do not wait until it is too late. Start your body to acclimatize before you have to live in the worst conditions. If electricity is going to stop at some given point, it is better to preserve food and have ice than air conditioning. If it is cold, make sure you have clean drinking water and start cutting down on the heating. Wear more clothes and start looking for more clothing that will keep you warm in all conditions. Again as before, think about your situation and plan for the worst. If it is cold, plan for the coldest winter. You can always remove clothing, but not having enough is bad. If it is hot, plan for the hottest. You may have to build some thick walls, and more shade. Survival in winter will be more difficult for people in the south. They just are not familiar with the dangers of cold. In the North the summers will be easy and the winters bearable, except for those that live in the city and who do not dress for the outside. A cold building is harder to warm than a cave, but is easier to live in. You will just have to learn to insulate and retain heat and find warm clothes.

William Nolan is a retired US Army Engineer with two degrees and interest is History, Scouting, and Singing. He currently works with a website that sells Camping Stoves [] of all types and sizes. He likes to say he has your camping stove, and will make your camping experience enjoyable.

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