Home defense

5 Ways to Help Your Family Be Better Prepared

Fives Ways to Better Prepare your family for a Crisis


Families today are accustomed to power outages and a few hours of the power being out is generally not a problem it is simply an inconvenience and any tasks needed to be done can wait. However, once services such as electricity, water and gas have been disrupted for several days it becomes not an inconvenience but a problem.

Families in some cases tend to overlook the fact that tasks and responsibility do not cease because their municipal services have been disrupted. Meals still have to be prepared, baths given to children, laundry needs to be done, your home needs to be kept clean, and your family protected all without the benefit of electricity, gas or running water.

1.) Survival Without Electricity

The problem is the world’s dependency on electricity. The simplest task like toasting bread without electricity requires planning and resources you might not have. How do you toast bread without a toaster or an oven? Some might say this is not a problem but combine this with the fact you may not be able to brew coffee, squeeze orange juice or poach an egg, and you start to see how difficult life can be during a disaster if you have not properly prepared.

  • Become aware of the threats, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wild fires and terrorists attacks. Typically, you would know if you live in an area prone to seasonal natural disasters, earthquakes and wild fires. However, disasters such as tornadoes have been reported in every area of the world except the Antarctica. Tornadoes can occur anytime there is a thunderstorm and can happen anytime of the year, so regardless of where you live they are a possibility albeit a remote possibility in certain areas.
  • Generally, emergency supplies are not disaster specific, in other words you will always need certain essentials regardless of the calamity. In some cases however, special precautions, may be needed such as in the event of a terrorist attack if they unleash chemical or biological weapons. If this is the case, evacuation is probably the only course of action you can take to save your family’s life along with certain protective gear for short periods of exposure. Part of preparing your home and family for any situation includes preparing for evacuation and knowing when to evacuate and where to find a safer location.
  • Additional threats could include a collapse of the monetary system that would result in hyperinflation and cause civil unrest such as rioting and violent demonstrations. Destruction of the power grid by hackers is a real threat and attempts are made daily against the security systems in place. Water treatment plants would also be affected by hackers, computers viruses and sabotage at the plant level.

2.) Create a “To Do” List

List all of the tasks you have to accomplish during the course of a typical day and decide what tasks will still need to be accomplished during a crisis. The only way you can settle on a solution is to determine the problem. If you have children, they will need to be entertained, bathed, fed regular meals, have their clothes washed, given medications and comforted. Establishing a sense of normalcy by doing, the things that you normally do will help control stress and panic in children as well as adults.

  • It is important that you approach every problem by assuming the worst. You cannot use history as a template. What happened last time the power went out cannot be used to determine what might happen the next time. Super storm sandy along the Eastern Seaboard is an example of families and local authorities using history to dictate their actions today. It was not even classified as hurricane strength and yet the levels of destruction far exceeded that of even more severe storms in the past and most people prepared based on what had happened in the past.
  • Areas are more built up, infrastructure is in places it never had been before and much of it has been weakened by past events and ad hoc repairs because of financial problems over the years only adds to the problem. There are more people and structures in the path of storms today now more than at any time in history. The storms simply have more to destroy.
  • Once you have identified what needs to be done you have to set about gathering what is needed. Water is important and practically speaking you cannot have too much stockpiled. You will need a storage system in place however, gallon jugs on the shelf is not adequate for extended periods. You will need water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and general sanitation around the home and for laundry.
  • You will need a system in place to do laundry and give baths, so this means you need a way to heat water in large volumes. Your ancestors washed cloths in a tub using a scrub board and sticks, the water was drawn from a well or river and heated over an open fire outside the backdoor.
  • You are preparing to live without the benefit of electricity and you must have the tools and systems in place that allow you to accomplish your tasks without public utilities. You will have to learn to do many things during the day to conserve on candles, oil and propane used for lanterns. You will literally begin to adapt as humans did years ago to the natural cycles of nature. You will get up with the sun and go to bed when it goes down.

3.) Plan For Proper Sanitation

Proper sanitation procedures are important and possibly even more so during a disaster to prevent the spread of illnesses and bacteria. Some people fail to realize that once the power is out for an extended period the sewage system in place in your community will not work. The system will certainly not work if there is not any running water for an extended period.

  • Waste treatment plants need electricity to process the waste. When the plant shuts down, they will close off the system at various control points to prevent waste from building up at the plant. This means the waste from your home cannot enter the sewer system and will backup in to your home if you flush toilets or run water down the drains.
  • This is critical and not having a means to control and remove waste can cause severe illnesses and create insects and rodent infestations. This is a serious safety issue for families that is not given enough attention when it comes to disaster preparedness. For years, in centuries past, citizens living in European countries simply dumped their waste in the streets. Rains washed the waste into the local water systems where the people drew their water causing untold numbers of death from cholera, typhoid fever and other diseases.
  • According to UNICIF over 1.8 million people worldwide, mostly children, die each year from unsanitary living conditions. Four thousand children die everyday world wide from unsanitary conditions that caused their drinking water supply to become contaminated (UNICEF, n.d.).
  • Have a plan in place such as portable chemical toilets and/or waste disposable bags designed for human waste. Another option is a latrine outside. Dig a small trench, screen with tarps, and provide illumination for nighttime use. Have a bag of agricultural lime on hand to control bacteria and odor. Dig the trench at least two feet deep by two feet wide and pile the excavated soil nearby to toss in along with some lime after each use. Do not allow small children to handle the lime or to use the latrine unsupervised. Do not use the latrine to dispose of spoiled foods or other household waste, dig a separate pit for other garbage generated.

4.) Defend The Home

Home defense is important and it must be a consideration when planning. Looters and other criminals will take advantage of any crisis. Law enforcement will be stretched to their limits and you may find in some cases they will not respond at all unless it is a life or death situation. It will be up to you to see that your home and family is protected. Have enough plywood sheets on hand to cover all glass openings so if the crisis causes riots or demonstrations you can cover your openings to deter criminals and to help prevent extensive damage. Once they see you have taken precautions, they may move on to an easier target. Criminals in many cases during a crisis are opportunist, if they find open doors and windows, they may decide to slip in and grab and go or even confront you.

  • Home defense weapons are an option but they must be with you at all times during a disaster. This prevents children from gaining access to them and they are with you when they are needed. Experts always recommend that you keep weapons locked up but during a crisis, they must be visible to act as a deterrent when others come around and they need to be in a position for use if something happens.

5.) Food & Water

Food stockpiles must be carefully planned and knowing how to store your foods properly is critical to ensure your family eats well and receives the proper nutrition during a disaster.

  • You will likely need more calories daily during a crisis because your physical activity level will increase if the disaster extends for any period. Remember you will be doing many tasks and chores during the crisis without the benefit of appliances and tools powered by electricity.
  • Only purchase foods everyone will eat. A pallet of canned spinach may be a bargain but it will not look that way when the lights are out and everyone is looking for a hot meal. Ensure you know how to prepare the foods you have purchased. If you do not have the means or knowledge to cook rice then learn how to cook it and gather the cookware or do not use it. During a crisis is not the time to experiment.
  • Eating food from a can or package is acceptable for a few days but soon everyone will want a hot meal. The process of preparing a meal and getting everyone involved can reduce stress. Give everyone a task to perform so everyone has a role and are contributing to everyone’s well being. This means you must have what is needed to heat and prepare foods such as propane camp stoves or outdoor charcoal/gas grills.
  • Ensure you know the expiration dates of all foods and do an inspection every 30 or 60 days so foods can be removed and put into use before the expiration date. Replace any foods pulled from the stockpile. Families tend to use emergency foods and not replace them because of complacency. Nothing happens for months or even years so soon everyone begins to believe nothing will ever happen.

Ensuring the safety of your family is your number one priority in any situation. Everyone must have a clean and safe environment in which to live. A disaster is no reason to forego common sense practices such as personal hygiene and house cleaning. Dirty clothes and bodies will harbor bacteria. You will have closer physical contact during a crisis, diseases can spread easily, and until the cycle is broken, they will remain a threat.

Contaminated drinking water kills people and it does not just happen in other countries. Out of the dozens of drinking water, associated outbreaks every year that sicken thousands and cause deaths the majority of illnesses are caused by bacteria in the water. A lower percentage 13.9 percent is caused by viruses while slightly over eight percent are caused by parasites in the water. Close to three percent of the outbreaks reported both bacteria and parasites present in the drinking water. Other contaminates found in drinking water include chemicals/toxins such as pesticides and herbicides. (CDC, n.d.).

In the United States alone there are close to 30,000 cases of waterborne dysentery each year, while worldwide there are 140 million cases reported with 600,000 deaths cause by dysentery worldwide.

When people think of safety for their families during a crisis, many times the focus is on the crisis itself. The fact is the days after can be if not more devastating that the crisis. Clean drinking water, proper nutrition and protection from physical hazards is what will keep your family safe.

Begin now preparing yourself and your family to survive without electricity because at some point maybe even in your lifetime electricity will be a luxury that few will be able to afford if it is available at all.

CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6012a4.htm

UNICEF. (n.d.). Water Sanitation and Hygiene. Retrieved 2013, from http://www.unicef.org/wash/index_23606.html

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Emergency Power, Food, Home Defense, Planning Comments Off

A Smart Preppers Guide to Firearms

A Smart Preppers Guide to Firearms

A Smart Preppers Guide to FirearmsAside from the crisis itself, the biggest threat to you and your family during any disaster is other humans. Friends, neighbors and strangers may be displaced from their homes and desperate for supplies to feed their own families. You simply cannot predict how people will react to a catastrophe because stress affects everyone differently. Some may turn to violence in the name of providing for their families.

The Basics

Virtually anything can be called a weapon and you can in turn use anything to defend yourself. However, when it comes to home defense you also need a deterrent. Intruders will not be impressed by you holding a lamp, but will hesitate and possibly flee if they realize you have a firearm. Just the fact that you have one can deter crime just like video surveillance cameras and even beware of dog signs can.  Read more

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Firearms, Home Defense 18 Comments

How Safe is Your Family? 9 Rules for Suburban Preppers

How Safe is Your Family

Photo by Eric Ward via Wikimedia Commons

Some families and individuals living in a suburban area may feel they cannot properly prepare for a disaster because they do not have acres of land, or even a safe haven some miles from the city. Some may even feel trapped. Although there are, certain disadvantages to living in an urban environment if disaster strikes the disadvantages would not be considered life threatening. There are however, rules for prepping if you live in suburbia, rules that will ensure you can survive a disaster. The rules generally speaking, are not disaster specific but it will be noted when one is specifically for a certain crisis, otherwise assume you would follow the general guidelines regardless of the catastrophe.

Rule Number 1

From a security standpoint do not divulge how well prepared you are to anyone but your immediate family

This rule will cause some debate because people generally want to include others in their lives for various reasons but there are certain things you must keep to yourself. Some preppers have meetings where everyone lays out their plans and discusses techniques, what they have stockpiled and what they need. This is a learning process for many of those new to prepping and frankly many people new to prepping do not have their heart in it. They may feel it is a fad, or the thing to do because their friends pressured them and so on. In other words, they are not really preparing, but just going through the motions. People just naturally assume that bad things happen to other people. They will not get the message until it is too late. It is very difficult for some people to understand that the biggest enemy during a crisis is other human beings. A young couple with small children will do whatever it takes to provide for their children, and this includes taking from you. Never underestimate desperate parents.

It is not this article’s intent to discourage networking with other preppers but to emphasis the need for security. Trusted friends and allies are essential to survival but it is important for you to realize that when disaster does strike you may only have yourself and family to rely on. Just be careful about advertising how well prepared you really are. Telling everyone, you have silver and gold buried for bartering is only inviting trouble. Your friends may not pose any risks, but they will drop a comment here and there or their children will and soon everyone knows where to find resources during a crisis.

Rule Number 2

Prepare for the threats that are most likely to happen

Nuclear, chemical or biological attacks are a very real possibility in large metropolitan areas. If you cannot flee the area you will need duct tape and plastic to seal your home from the outside air, but not to the point where you suffocate yourself. Having a basement is ideal where you can get below ground level. You want to put as many obstacles between you and the blast or dispersal area as possible. Attacks of this type may very well come without warning, so make sure you have ample tape and plastic and even protective suits if that is economically feasible.

Rule Number 3

Do not stockpile your supplies in one place

Cache supplies in various underground locations in your yard or even in some outbuildings. If you are robbed or your home is damaged you can lose all of your supplies. You will need backup resources. Do not cache supplies in commercial storage facilities. You may not be able to retrieve your supplies during a crisis and commercial buildings are prime targets for looters especially self-storage buildings.

Rule Number 4

Prepare an evacuation plan

Do not convince yourself that you will never have to evacuate because you will not be able to if you have not prepared. Evacuation is a very real possibility. There may be extensive damage to your home or there are air borne contaminates or nuclear fallout in the area, which means you, must leave. Make sure you have the means to transport your supplies even it if it is just backpacks. You cannot leave empty handed.

Rule Number 5

Stayed informed

Information is crucial before, during and after disaster strikes. So make sure you have the equipment to stay informed such as ham radios, Citizen band Radios (CB) and even two-way radios. You want to be able to monitor traffic from emergency responders and ham radio operators. Ham radios are used during disasters to rely information nation and even worldwide in some cases. Ham radios have extended ranges. Be careful about using the radios for other than monitoring because if you are transmitting, your location can be determined by triangulation of the radio signal. If you are in a situation where you have to evade others do not transmit but simply monitor your communication devices.

Rule Number 6

Do not wait for your local government to help you

Depending on the magnitude of the crisis, your local and even the federal government will go into self-preservation mode and it can be weeks or even longer before they will be of any help.

Rule Number 7

Avoid getting caught up in protest or demonstrations

Society in the short term will go through some changes during a crisis and yet overall it will remain the same. You will find that after just a few days some people will be demanding changes from their leaders and some may even begin marching and protesting. This is counterproductive; your time needs to be spent surviving and planning for long-term sustainability in the event the crisis is for an extended period. There will be plenty of time for complaining and affixing blame later.

Rule Number 8

Plan for home defense

Every occupied home will be a target as well as unoccupied ones during a disaster. Most serious preppers would probably consider home security a number one priority and it is a priority, but getting a bunker or siege mentality is not beneficial. You cannot barricade yourself in your home to the point you have created a death trap if there is a fire or someone does break in and the intruder is between you and the exit. You do need to have a plan, a common sense approach to home defense that includes an escape plan. Consider firearms, and having the tools and materials such as plywood sheets on hand to secure windows and any glass openings.

Remember your biggest threat is other humans in the community and not the government. If you believe an army will show up to take over your home and confiscate your possessions there is simply not enough firepower you can amass that would stop them, so planning for that type of invasion is futile.

You are protecting your home from looters and others living in your city and not from some shadow government waiting on a crisis so they can march into your town. You will also be defending your family and possessions from neighbors that have turned to violence in the name of providing for their families.

Rule Number 9

It is never been a matter of if but simply a matter of when

A crisis will strike and in all likelihood, it will be the one you least expected. However, as stated earlier supplies, tools and materials are not necessarily disaster specific. Always prepare with shelter, water, fire/energy and food as your priorities because you cannot survive any crisis without them. Once the priorities are met then you can get more specific in your planning.

Considerations and Obstacles Facing Preppers Living in Suburbia

Living in a suburban area means you probably do not have space for a sizable garden so developing a sustainable food source would be difficult. However, you can grow virtually any vegetable using hydroponics, which is growing foods without using soil as a growing medium.

Because you cannot rely on your environment to provide you with a food or water source in the early stages you will need a substantial amount of food and water. If you lived in a rural area you would have rivers, streams and lakes and land for growing foods and you could hunt and fish to supplement your food supplies.

Proximity to other people is a disadvantage in urban areas. Friends’, neighbors and strangers can pose a risk to you and your family. The risks increase the longer the crisis goes on.

Having to commute to work and schools may mean you are more exposed to the crisis. You may be at work when disaster strikes so additional planning is required. You will need to have rendezvous points for family members if an attack happens during the school and workday. Ensure you know what the emergency plans are at your children’s schools. Are there areas where the children would be at other than at the school during a crisis, emergency shelters and so forth?

Carry an emergency survival bag in all of your vehicles with several days’ worth of food and water for you and your children. If an attack comes while you are at work and you rush to pick up your children at school you may be delayed because of the crisis and you have to be prepared to shelter in your vehicle until you can make it home. Make sure everyone is aware of this contingency plan.



Posted on by Suburban Prepper in Food, Planning, SHTF 16 Comments

The Suburbanite’s Challenge to Survival and Preparation, Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts that will highlight serious challenges to the suburban prepper. We will then discuss ideas to overcome these challenges then YOU, my faithful readers, can give your 2-cents on the subject (since I do recognize that I don’t know everything).

How do you protect your home from the unsavory characters combing the streets looking for the food, ammo and medical gear they failed to pack away?

So Why Are You Still Here?
Why haven’t you bugged out to your 50+ acre Idaho farm on fertile growing soil? You know the one on Rawles Lane (you named your new street after the survival guru Mr. J. Rawles didn’t you?). Well, first of all my kids want to go to a school with more than one room, my wife still wants to see her mother (shivers) and I have a job that cannot be done over the internet. These factors all mean one thing … suburban life baby!
Being stuck in the burbs ensures one thing … that the chances of you buggin’ out are slim to none and slim was arrested for terrorism and is being held as an enemy combatant. You are in the burbs dude, once the mushroom cloud goes up you aren’t going anywhere! The streets will be packed with cars that only have 1/4 of a tank (cause who can afford to fill er’ up anymore) and pretty soon major roads and freeways are going to parking lots. If you try to make it, you risk your family being exposed out on the road with nothing more than what you could cram in your Explorer. Unless you are guaranteed to make it to a retreat or wilderness area you may be forced to bug in.

You’re Here, Get Ready to Make a Stand!
So how do you protect your suburban home? The biggest threat as I see it is an assualt by a determined group. Why?  All they have to do is burn your house down. Ever think of that? Watch some old westerns and you will see how easy it is to get someone out of a building. You have two ways to prevent this: (1) stay completely hidden so no one knows the house is occupied or (2) double up with another family, fortify that McMansion and give em’ hell.

Staying Hidden:
You are limited only by your imagination here. Staying hidden requires that you never leave the house so you better have your preps squared away and solid! You better have night light discipline. Solar power instead of a noisy smelly generator (is there anything that would call MORE attention to your location after the gird goes down than a generator?). You will need to cook indoors which presents its own issues or go on completely cold food. Become nocturnal (there is a reason animals are nocturnal you know) and do all of your outside work at night. Get some night vision or get your eyes seared like Vin Diesal in Pitch Black and make the night yours!
You should be prepared to hide inside your home at least once if a roving gang does a house to house sweep a la “I am Legned” in a coordinated and systematic search for goods. Hiding yourself can be challenging and it is limited by your home’s structure and location. Consider the attic to hide (ever read Diary of Ann Frank?, I didn’t but I think she hid there), false walls, hidden rooms (you could easily convert a closet into a hidden room with one of these), hollowed out furniture, or any other creative idea you have. Remember, you will only have to stay hidden for a short period of time, they will eventually move on. Considered hiding your preps as well. This presents a much larger challenge but I think you get the idea.

Show Them No Mercy… For You Shall Receive None! (Lord of the Rings!)
So you were in town at a make-shift pub drinking home distilled vodka and had a little too much to drink and pissed off the leader of the Hell’s Angels gang that happens to be motoring through town. On top of it all, you start spouting off about how you have three years worth of food, 1,000 rounds of ammo, gold bars and a teenage daughter and that they will never get you… Uh Oh, you are screwed. You get back to the house but they followed you and now get ready for a Lord of the Rings siege… Are you ready?
Preparing the Castle for The Siege
If you are planning to bug in or have to because of your particular circumstances you must be prepared to protect the “keep”. This requires prior planning, acquiring some key items and some research.
A great place to start is Combined Arms Operations in Urban Terrain. (Go over to Ranger Man’s Blog and pick up a copy through his online store) This is the Army’s manual for urban combat. It will show you how to reinforce windows, how to move in a building without being seen and whole bunch other really cool stuff. It also shows you how you may be seized upon! Knowing the other guys’ moves may be helpful.
You will need to pick up the items to reinforce your windows, doors and any other entrances to the house. I would suggest buying multiple lengths of 2x4s and flooring thickness plywood and stashing them behind the garage covered under a tarp to reduce the weather’s effects on them. The SP always has TWO charged batteries for his power tools so even if the power goes down, you have got a few hours of operation left.   Sand bags would be great but I not sure the homeowners’ association would like a pile of sand in the drive way “just in case”.  If you have a little room in the back for some sand, then stash some bags and a shovel.  Sand bags make the best cover for firing out of a window (ok, not as good as armor, but you get the picture).  Razor wire is a fantastic item to prevent actual entry into the home. It is not terribly expensive but handle it with caution. Check out the burglar bomb for some chemical deterrents.  You can get creative if there has been some sort of chemical or nuclear attack and post a bunch of fake warnings on the door and walls indicating that the people inside are infected or mutated (it is worth a shot right?)

As you know the sky is the limit.  If you read Patriots by J. Rawles then you know that protecting your home can be done with explosives and other hard-core devices.  If you can get this stuff (and handle it safely) then good for you.  But for the average suburbanite, that is not a reality.   The goal here is to make YOUR home undesirable to anyone trying to make an easy killPlayground rules kids, the bullys pick the easy targets.


Below I have provided a picture of my own home so you can get an idea of my defensive capabilities. 

Posted on by Suburban Prepper in SHTF, Suburban Survival 2 Comments