You’ve probably bought or built the building you will live in if you are forced to evacuate due to economic problems or natural disasters. The next step, which requires a lot of planning, would be to stock your bug out bunker or shelter with what you and your family will need to survive.
Preparedness means stockpiling survival items and gaining survival knowledge ahead of time, before a disaster catches you unprepared. The challenge with outfitting your bug out bunker or shelter is that you need to know what you should bring with you and how much of it. When planning to stockpile items and setting up house somewhere remotely you have to consider two types of items: consumables and non-consumables.
Food is probably the most important decision you have to make when it comes to what you need to stock in your shelter. The first mistake most people make when stockpiling food is overlooking how dietary changes can influence our way of living, especially under harsh living conditions. You can switch from eating fresh fruits and vegetables and comfort foods to a diet of dehydrated or freeze-dried foods. Besides the possibility of having digestive problems, the young and old members from your party will have a hard time adjusting to the new diet and food fatigue will set in faster than you would expect. When stockpiling food items for your bug out bunker or shelter, variety is the key. Make sure you plan a diet that doesn’t involve eating the same food day after day. People need to eat food they enjoy in order to keep high levels of energy and their morale high. Concentrate on stockpiling familiar and appetizing food and if possible, avoid stockpiling foods that need to be frozen or reconstituted.
Water is another consumable that you need to stock in your bug out bunker or shelter and you should have at least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and cooking. Try to stock water in individual bottles or gallon jugs in order to keep track of how much water you are consuming. I usually stockpile another gallon per person per day for personal washing or laundry. This is a backup reserve that can be used for other purposes if needed. Stockpiling water is not enough and you need to have ways to gather water if your environment allows it. Purifying water has become easier in the last decades and you have all sorts of commercial solutions like powerful water filters or water purifying tablets. Over the past three years I have bought a few lifestraw filters and I can testify that these items are amazing.
Fuel and energy will be needed for your bug out bunker or shelter and you should start first by looking at your daily habits. You need to know exactly what you use for cooking, heating, communication and lighting before deciding on what kind of energy source you will need. Stockpiling on batteries is a common practice for many households, but only few people have devices that function with only one type of batteries. There are even fewer people that know how batteries can be charged, what their lifespan is and most importantly, how to recondition them. Try to stockpile one or two sizes of battery for your devices. If you are preparedness minded, you probably have a mixture of energy sources as a backup power supply should your primary go down. Most preppers will equip their bug out bunker or shelter with a few automotive or marine batteries along with a power inverter, besides the gallons of fuel they’ve stored. Your environment will dictate how you plan for alternative power sources and solar, wind and water power systems are now more affordable than ever. Make sure you test your equipment at home to see how much fuel it requires for an average use. It will be easier to calculate how many fuel canisters you will need to stock in your bug out bunker or shelter.
Sanitation or survival sanitation is a must if you want to stay healthy when the world around you crumbles. You will need to keep things clean and you need to stockpile on hand, laundry and dishwashing detergent, but also to learn how to make your own with the supplies you’ve stockpiled. Toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, universal or magic soap, paper towels and cleaning tools (I haven’t seen anyone mentioning them in their preps) are all items you need to have. I have the same amount that I normally use at home for 6 months, but that may be too much for you so I suggest starting with a month worth of cleaning supplies. Once you cover the basic supplies, you will need to take care of the human waste, and even though this is a delicate subject you can’t run away from it. Think about acquiring a chemical and composting toilet for those times when getting outside to dig a latrine is not possible. Your sanitation area should be designed in such manner that would incorporate the space needed for the containers your toilet uses once they are filled.
Suggested reading: Survival sanitation and how to handle it
First aid and medicine should be found in every household, not only in a bunker or shelter. Although some people would consider these items as consumables, unless you’re a hypochondriac that pops pills like skittles, you should be fine adding these items to the non-consumable list. Nobody wants to get hurt or get ill and we all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you have a basic knowledge of first aid, you should know by now that your prepping needs should address three general categories: basic first aid needs, medicine and specific drugs, and trauma needs. As the name implies the basic first aid needs will include things to handle minor wounds such as cuts, abrasions, burns, heat and cold-related injuries. Medicine and specific drugs will include stockpiles of prescription drugs as well as other over the counter medication for pain, bowl and stomach distress, allergy and stress related drugs. Trauma related supplies require a good knowledge and training in order to use them properly and many of these supplies are being sold by vendors as trauma ready-available kits. Broken bones, arterial bleeding, breathing problems, severe burns, chest wounds and poisoning are all health issues that require trauma supplies.
Clothing and accessories to adapt to the indoors and outdoors weather conditions should also be considered. While many people will prefer to run constantly the heating or air condition in their shelter to adjust easily to the weather conditions, the smart prepper will use adequate clothing in order to save fuel. You should use clothing to adapt to the temperature inside your shelter rather than consuming your fuel. When it comes to accessories you should plan for the weather you know and having an extra pair of boots and gloves is smart thinking. For example, I have three pair of foldable shoes (ideal for light weather) that I keep in one shoebox and I also have a pair of sturdy boots. Gloves and belts are also on my list and a few hats and some protective head gear closes the list. The clothes you have in your bug out bag may be enough, but make sure you plan for any type of weather before taking the final decision on what your wardrobe should contain.
Kitchen gear is often overlooked by many preppers and survivalists. If you are used to cooking every once in a while, you probably know how important it is to have a full set of pots and pans, and a good set of knives. There’s nothing more frustrating than starting to prepare a meal and realizing you are missing something or you don’t have the proper tools. My away from home kitchen is equipped with everything I would need, items such as: spatulas, ladles, spoons for stirring and serving, knives, colanders, cutting boards, plastic containers for leftovers and what not. Before you ransack the kitchen shop, take a good look at your kitchen and identify the items you use because those items would still be needed when civilization no longer stands.
Suggested reading: Survival improvised cooking
Tools and maintenance gear are needed to keep your bug out bunker or shelter standing. If things break down during your “forced vacation” you won’t be able to call your local handyman to fix them. You need to have both the skills and tools to address any problem that arise during your hunkering down experience. Do you know how to handle a clogged drain, a short in the wiring or a broken cabinet? If the answer is yes, you’re half way there and you need to make sure you have the right tools to fix these problems. You need to have the tools ready at your bug out bunker or shelter because you might not have the time to pick them up during the evacuation stage and you may want to avoid wasting space in your vehicle and use it to carry other supplies. Here is a list with what my toolbox contains: a multi-tool, a screwdrivers set, a torx and hex wrench set, a claw hammer, a power drill and a power saw, 2 battery chargers for the power tools, a saw for cutting wood and lumber, a hand axe, measuring tape, pliers, pipe wrench, two adjustable wrenches, a head lamp, a toilet plunger and a plumber’s snake.
Home and self-defense items for a good night’s sleep should also be on the list. If your prepping plan includes defending your bug out bunker or shelter, you will need to have a combination of guns and perimeter alarms/traps. You can rely on handguns or non-lethal weapons if you must and it all depends on the training you have in using such items. In addition, you will also need the equipment required to maintain them in good condition and of course, plenty (how much is plenty is debatable and everyone has their own fears and opinions) of ammunition for each one. Read the article below if you want to learn about the best weapons recommended for self-defense.
Recommended article: Five guns every prepper should own
Communication items are needed if you want to listen on the outside world. These items are not needed to operate your bug out bunker or shelter, but everyone knows that an informed person can prepare better than the ones staying in the dark. Even a handled family radio will suffice under certain conditions and it will help you communicate with people in your group if they are outside the bunker or shelter. However, if you need to find out what is going on in the outside world, you will need a shortwave radio or hand-handled VHF radio. These communications items will let you monitor the news and weather reports if needed.
Isolation and boredom, the nasty products of our modern society that will lower your morale. We live in times where people get bored easily and they try to find all sorts of distractions that will keep them active. Only few people are able to resist spending a week or two in a mountain cabin without internet and enjoy simple pleasures such as fishing and hiking. The rest of people will need items that will help them pass the time and these items can vary based on how they are used to spend their time. Some will bring video games, their favorite collection of movies while others will bring books and board games. It doesn’t matter what you bring as long as those items help you forget about the world going to s… No matter how hard things were, humans always managed to find the time to socialize and interact with each other in order to pass the time. Think about this scenario and don’t forget to bring something that makes you happy.
If you have covered all the items listed in this article, the question still remains: how much is enough? While this is a hard question for me to answer, you shouldn’t have any problems in figuring it out the answer for yourself. You should know best how much you need to stockpile for each category based on how much your family is used to consume. The advice I can give you is to double it up because you can’t plan precisely for a disaster and since you’ve probably never experienced such situation before it is better to be safe than sorry.
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