You never know when disaster may strike, from a flat tire on an abandoned stretch of highway to a long-term power outage; emergency situations are always stressful, but you can help reduce some of that stress and maximize your potential for survival with these 43 fantastic prepping tips. So, read on to get ready!
1. Emergency Kits
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number one cause of death among children and teens occurs from injury. Reduce the consequences of injury by carrying an emergency kit in your pocket or purse. We recommend at the minimum to keep alcohol swabs, bandages, lighters, and key chain flashlights, prepping an emergency kit won’t take more than ten minutes and could save your life.
Here is a broader list of emergency essentials for survival
2. Safety in Numbers
Another way to reduce the ramifications of injury is to make sure your emergency kits have back up.For example, a few alcohol swabs are useful but adding a mini bottle of rubbing alcohol will make that kit even more effective; especially in an emergency where supplies may be hard to come by.
3. Road Side Assistance
You should also be prepared with a large bug out bag (BOB) at home and in the car. The DMV highlights how important this preparedness tip is with an official list on their website of what to carry specifically for road side emergencies, saying, “Such protection is something that every vehicle should have…”
* Here's some tips on what to put in your bug out bag.
4. Don’t Get Trapped
Another good place to keep a specific emergency kit is under the bed. This kit should include things like a flashlight, a spare set of house and car keys, and an extra cell phone to call for help. This kit is useful in case you get trapped and have to exit from an upstairs window. You should also keep a spare set of clothes, and shoes along with a blanket packed in a suitcase somewhere outside, like in a shed.
5. Create Charity Kits
If you have the means to set aside a little extra in your prepping budget make small kits designed for short-term assistance. Things like travel sized shampoo,hair elastics and vitamins can really help out a neighbor and create goodwill.
6. Stay Warm
Being prepared to escape fires is crucial but starting them can be equally as important. Saving your dryer lint or dipping cotton balls in petroleum jelly,makes for great kindling that will burn red hot for awhile; perfect for a source of heat and a method of cooking.
7. Keep Matches Handy
Matches are essential to any BOB as they provide the best combination of ease, use and reliability. Strike-anywhere matches are useful because you don’t need a special striking surface to ignite them. However, these matches have been made illegal in certain areas because of the concern that they can ignite by accident. Kitchen safety matches require a special striking surface but in an emergency situation sand paper will work just fine. Gluing a piece of sandpaper to the inside lid of a mason jar and filling it with matches is an instant way to waterproof your matches and make sure you have a proper striking surface.
8. Water, Water Everywhere…
Based on the Palmer Drought Index, 22 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought category while severe to extreme drought affected about 7 percent of the US, this year. The most important thing to have in a survival situation is water. Store clean water any way you can, from canning it in mason jars to re-using empty soda bottles, you can even buy extensions for the gutter down spout and use it to fill full sized barrels.
9.…But Not a Drop to Drink
If you find yourself in an emergency situation where no clean water is available then knowing how to distill water will literally save your life. Distillation can be done in several different ways but mainly it involves boiling water to produce vapor. When the water vaporizes entirely, it will leave contaminants behind,once the vapor condenses back into liquid form it will be safe to drink. You can distill water from plants, snow and rain, or even use this process to desalinate seawater. Distillation can be done with a stainless steel pot, on a grill or with glass bottles. They do sell distillation kits or you can opt for the many DIY resources online.
Another way to ensure you aren’t caught without a drinkable source of water is to purchase a large bottle of five to ten percent iodine solution. Pour the iodine into travel sized spray bottles for easy storage in your emergency kits. A few drops per liter of water will act as a purification system. Plus, iodine comes in handy for disinfecting cuts and will keep your thyroid functioning in the absence of iodized salt.
11. Emergency Toilets
Be prepared with a DIY toilet that uses a five-gallon joint compound bucket and heavy-duty plastic bags to collect the waste; or invest in a camping toilet which is as lightly more sophisticated variation of the DIY model and costs less than $40. For some circumstances, a more advanced toilet may be suitable. Toilets made for RV’s are designed to use very little water and can be connected to an external tank for increased capacity. They can be battery operated and powered by a car battery.
* If you're looking for a camping shower tent, just click here.
12. Carry Cash
It doesn’t matter how much credit you have if the emergency situation affects the power. Store some cash in a hidden place inside your house and keep some spare change in your car. You never know what you might need to purchase in a pinch, but we do know cash is always accepted.
13. Invest in a Propane Heater
A source of heat is incredibly important for survival if you live in a part of the world where temperatures drop below zero. Investing in a propane heater is a small cost for safety. Propane is your best bet because wood takes months to season and butane freezes. Just remember that even on the coldest nights you still need to keep a window cracked for proper ventilation.
14. Keep Food Cold
In hotter parts of the country keeping yourself and your food cool is very important. Not only is it a good idea to make sure you stock your freezer with bags of ice but you can also freeze and store milk in its container. Frozen milk will help keep the contents in your fridge cool for up to twelve hours at 60F. Once it defrosts you can drink the milk. Use semi-skimmed milk so the fat doesn’t separate when it defrosts.
15. Keep Food Safe
Instead of bags of ice bought from the store you can also freeze jugs of water. This tip is extra useful if you are going on vacation. Fill a 2 liter bottle about 1/3 full and make sure it freezes upright. Once it is frozen lay it on its side. If the water ends up frozen sideways at the bottom it indicates the power was off long enough that your food may be unsafe to eat.
16. Tarps and Tents
Carrying a tent in your BOB isn’t always feasible but a good alternative is carrying a tarp. Tarps can be used for many things such as, making a shelter, catching rainwater, making a hammock or making a litter for an injured person. Keeping a tent at home is important because when the grid is down sleeping in a tent in your house is a good way to cope with extra cold temperatures.
17. Keep your Medication Up to Date
If you have important prescription meds ask your doctor to prescribe a few extra days worth. Stash these in all the important places like under the bed, in your car and in your purse. Every three months rotate the extra supply so you’re aware of where everything is stored and how long until it expires.
18. Food Storage
Every week take ten minutes to do a quick check of your food supply. Rotate canned goods and other food items so the ones expiring soonest are at the front. After you’ve done your check add items you are running low on to your grocery list. You can even add $5 to $10 worth of extra non-perishable food items every time you go grocery shopping to make sure you are always fully stocked. Store some of the extra supply under your car seat. Don’t forget a manual can opener so you have something to eat that doesn’t involve cooking no matter where you are.
* Here is a list of the Best Food for Emergency Storage.
19. Do Diversify
When we think of non-perishable food we automatically think of cans. However, eating only canned goods adds a lot of extra sodium to your diet that can be unhealthy, and it’s just plain boring! Diversify your diet with a variety of canned, dry, and freeze-dried foods.
* Here's a tips on how to freeze dry food at home.
20. Store Hardware
Food isn’t the only important supply to be keeping track of; hardware can also be essential in an emergency. Just like you might do for food, every time you have a DIY project add some extra nails, lumber, screws etc. to your order. If disaster strikes you won’t have to worry about getting to the hardware store before you can begin repairs.
21. Take Stock of Batteries
While you should take stock of your food supply every week, you should take stock of your battery supply every three months. Keep a list of all the items that require batteries. Every quarter add new batteries to your prep kits and use the older batteries from the prep kits to power all the items on your list. This will ensure you have working batteries in all the important places.
22. Use Solar Power
Another way to prep for power outages is to stock up on high quality, small solar chargers, solar batteries and solar powered lanterns. You can even invest in lights that use strontium aluminate, a photo luminescent phosphorous material that absorbs photons & UV rays to charge. These lights charge well in low-level indoor light conditions and last forever.
23. Stock Up on Specialties
If you have children stocking up on entertainment options is still important. Make sure to have books, cards and crafts at the ready. This will not only help your kids stay calm while you think, but can serve as a morale booster for the whole family.
24. Stock Up on Toilet Paper
Another important item you’ll want to be stocked on in a disaster is toilet paper. Not only is it useful for it’s intended purpose but can double as napkins and be used as kindling. To ensure you’re never without toilet paper, store 4 rolls in a large Ziploc freezer bag. Then place a bag under each sink in your house, in the car and near any of your emergency kits.
25. Detect Carbon Monoxide
Even in small doses carbon monoxide can be harmful resulting in 15,000 emergency room visits and an average of 430 deaths per year, according to the CDC. Carbon monoxide is almost impossible to identify without a proper detector. To be properly prepared a carbon monoxide detector should be placed on each floor of your house and outside the doors of any bedrooms. Investing in a permanently installed battery-operated unit is the safest option as it will work even in a power outage but you could opt for a plug-in detector with battery back up.
26. Learn Your Equipment
Having special equipment for disasters like a crank radio or solar powered oven can ease the burden of any emergency, unless you don’t know how to use it. Practice makes perfect, so invest a few minutes of your time daily or weekly to familiarize yourself with how everything works. It will be much easier to deal with an unforeseen snag when you’re calm than in the midst of the actual crisis.
I don't know about you but I like to keep a spotting scope or something similar on hand because if you can't see it, you can't prepare for it. Always imperative to know as much about your surroundings as you can.
* If you're looking for the Solar Hand Crank Radio
27. Plan to Get Home
Use Google maps to print a map of your area,identify choke points where congestion from traffic and people might slow or stop you from getting home. Choke points include bridges, tunnels, canyons and spots that could be closed during an emergency. Then identify where large groups of people might gather in an emergency for food and water. Circle all the choke points and places like churches, grocery stores, hospitals, schools etc. Once you’ve highlighted all the areas you want to avoid, plan your route home in a way that minimizes passing by any of these hazards.
28. Practice Your Plan
Fight-or-flight syndrome occurs when the body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol. This creates a reaction in the brain that causes the amygdala to take control, the part of your brain where emotions come from. Clearly approaching an emergency situation emotionally rather than logically puts you at a great disadvantage. However, because this is our body’s natural reaction staying calm in an emergency and increasing your chances of survival requires practice. Enlist the help of a prep buddy, call each other at random on a monthly basis and give each other surprise emergency drills.
Also, investing in survival knives will come in handy for multitude of purposes such as self-defense, hunting, and for emergency carving of anything that will contribute to your survival. For the audience here on Authorized Boots, we put together a list of field tested knives in our guide of the Best Survival Knife. We also have subsections of research to help you navigate the overwhelming market of survival knives and the options available to you.
29. Include Your Family
Only repetition will help prepare your family for real-life disaster. After you’ve completed your map and planned multiple escape routes, give your family a schedule to practice each plan for different scenarios. Once they’re familiar with each plan, spring some random drills on them allowing them to get a feel for being prepared without being able to prepare.
30. Join a Preparedness Meet Up Group
Joining a group or connecting with another like minded prepper won’t just allow you to practice your emergency drills but will also be useful in trading skills and forming alliances during a disaster. For example, you could teach someone how to do basic car repairs in exchange for learning how to make soap.
31. Can You Carry It?
Make sure your emergency prep kit is unique to your living conditions, your body weight and which disasters are more likely to occur in your area. As a rule of thumb your BOB should weigh 15 to 20 percent of your body weight. No matter how many useful items you put in there, if you can’t carry it it’s no good. It's always a good idea to keep a few tactical bags on hand for short distance gathering missions when there's limited options for resources.
* Here's a tip on How to Create a Bug Out Bag.
32. Divide and Conquer
As mentioned above, an emergency bag that’s too heavy only hinders you. If you require heavier equipment for longer survival time, one way to minimize the load is to include some freebie cloth satchels with handles. This way if you’re with a few people you have the option of divvying up the weight without sacrificing essentials.
33. Protect Precious Memories
In today’s technological world there is no reason for disaster to affect your important documents or family photos. In addition to a USB or external hard drive, back up all your documents and photos with free cloud storage. You can even create an email account specifically for this reason and email all your photos and documents to yourself. This way if disaster strikes and destroys your home you can still access all the important stuff from any computer in the world.
34. Two Way Radios
Maintaining communication in a disaster is your only way of knowing what’s going on and what to do next in an emergency. Cellphones are not a reliable method of communication because cell towers could go down with heavy winds or flooding, and mobile phone batteries won’t last you in a power outage. This is why survival radios are a top priority for being prepared in any situation.Regular CBs can become clogged with radio traffic so it is a good idea to opt for a GMRS/FRS radio. A good model can even provide encryption for a private family discussion.
* We've listed for the Best Two-Radio for Families
35. TTY Text Telephone
Another effective mode of communication if cell and internet service goes out is the TTY machine. Generally used for the hearing or speech impaired, this machine enables a regular landline phone to send and receive text messages and many 911 services are set up to use these machines. Even if cell service is available, a working TTY machine, will get around overloaded cell towers and can help get you important information by calling official government lines or friends and family outside the area.
36. Special Needs Alert Radios
Investing in the Special-Needs NOAA Weather Radio is an amazing way to prepare anyone with special needs for an emergency. This radio receives National Weather Service (NWS) warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day. It comes with accessories that will vibrate your pillow or shake the bed to wake hard of hearing individuals when an alert comes in. It also provides strobe light alerts for when the person is awake. Furthermore this radio can be equipped with special adaptions that convert the weather messages into large print and/or Braille version for anyone who is visually impaired.
37. Keep your Service Animal Safe
If you use a service animal, contacting your local animal shelter or emergency management office before disaster strikes is an important way to stay prepared. This will help you determine which shelters are most likely to accept service animals without hassle. Moreover, make sure all vaccination and registration paperwork is up to date and at the ready. This is where tip #33 comes in handy!
38. Prepare your Pet
While stocking up on food for your family don’t forget extra cat or dog food. Additionally, stock up on kitty litter, flea treatments/flea collars, grooming supplies and toys. It’s also a good idea to keep recent photos of your pet handy in case they get lost during the disaster and you need help locating them.
39. Keep Your Clothes Clean
Purchasing a washboard, using a special washing plunger or investing in a non-electric portable mini washing machine are all great ways to ease the burden of keeping your clothes clean during a disaster. If all else fails you can use rocks along a stream to scrub your clothes clean.
40. Keep Yourself Clean
Staying clean is extremely important to your survival. Stocking up on hand sanitizer is essential for diminishing the spread of germs transferred by your hands; using soap and a wet cloth to sponge bathe is a good alternative when there is no running water, and in worse case scenarios where no water is around at all, remove as much of your clothing as possible and expose your body to air for minimum one hour.
41. Fortify Beforehand
During a disaster people are more susceptible to break-ins and burglaries. Fortify your house with these added measures. Install battery operated alarms on all entry points along with a wireless alarm system that sounds an alarm and automatically calls for assistance. Use outdoor sensor that will alert you when someone is approaching your home and get a guard dog.
42. Bug In when Possible
Bugging out should be a last resort! When you bug in you know the people, the land, the resources, the evacuation routes, etc. Plus if you followed the tip above, your home is fortified. Additionally you can join forces with your neighbors to exchange resources and manpower. This will help keep your area protected and safe from things like looters, increasing your chances of survival.
43. Find Food in Nature
If you absolutely have to bug out then increase your chances of survival by knowing how to find food in nature. Hundreds of plants, fruits, and vegetables grow naturally throughout the USA. Find out which ones are available in your area, then go hiking and try to find them. It’s fun, it’s free and you’ll be honing your survival skills.
From prepping on a budget to ten-minute tasks there are many small things we can incorporate daily that will make a big impact should disaster strike. Protecting ourselves and our loved ones in today’s world isn’t crazy, it’s smart! Remember, if you prepare for the worst and nothing happens you’ve lost nothing, but if you don’t prepare you could lose everything.
- For you hikers out there, here's our recommendation for Best Daypacks for Hiking