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Camping At Home. The Easy Way to Prep

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A friend of mine (from one of my jobs) and I have discussed disaster preparedness several times over the last few years. A few weeks ago He asked me to put my version of the basics in writing. I decided to make my response something other than a long list of things to go out and buy. It is kind of toned down in comparison to a lot of the posts on this board and a lot was left out What I wanted to do is cover the most important things but also to place the responsibility for his survival and that of his family on him. If the worst happens, he will be very much alone.

So without a lot of introduction here it is:

“The following is in regard to the last time we talked about disaster preparedness. I do not consider myself any sort of an expert. I do not think there are very many people who really are. I think most people who are “prepared” have opinions which for the most part are valid and useful, so this is the short version of mine.

I am convinced from what I have read and experienced that most people are not prepared for disasters and disruptions. Anyone who is willing to really think through the issues and do something meaningful about it, is light years ahead of the average person. For me, I am planning primarily for supply chain disruptions. What this means is that food, water, electricity, phones, gasoline etc. will for an extended period of time be unavailable. Also, I am planning on my house and possessions to be intact at least at the beginning of whatever happens. This means that I am not planning to relocate. If I have to do that, I will improvise when the time comes but more than likely we would stay with friends or family or they would stay with us if needed. I think this works for California but may not work as well in areas that get hit by hurricanes. So, I am planning to go camping at home. This makes planning easy since I have been back packing a couple of times. By category, I will explain what I think is needed. Here are the categories:

Water – Food – Lighting – TP – Sanitation – Cooking – Communications – fire fighting .
I left these off the list because I assume that I already have them: Shelter, clothing, meds.

Water is the most important category since most people die in less than a week without it. I have stored water. If a “worst case scenario” happens or if all my close friends and family show up at my house, I will not have enough water. As a plan “B” I spent some time on google earth and located all the large publically accessible sources of water in my area. I also have pure bleach (sodium hypochlorite) with no additives to purify water if needed. I believe it is 4 – 8 drops of bleach per gallon but you can double check on the red cross web site. Also I think the recommendation is 1 gallon per person per day.

Food. This can be a complicated subject since there is so much information and products out there. I have some canned goods and some dry food of the normal every day variety. Things that keep for a long time and that we like to eat. I also have food that is primarily meant for survival. In that regard I came across a useful resource on the internet:

The short version is that I watched several of the youtube videos on the site and I made my own versions of the sprouters this guy sells (my version of the easy sprout is made from two stacking plastic cups and the lid from a jar of instant coffee {from walmart}). I have sprouted garbanzo beans, black eyed peas, mung beans, lentils, Fenugreek. So I have stocked up on these. Pinto beans are not as good as these. It does take a lot of water to make sprouts but I would re-use the water for cooking. Several great things about sprouts: The seeds and beans keep for years (I sprouted lentils that were over 10 years old). They are cheap. They are solid compact food before you sprout them and you can more than double your volume of food when you sprout them. I am planning on adding sprouts to just about everything. I got most of my seeds and beans locally at India Sweets and Spices. You may want to read up on which plants can be eaten raw, I think all of these can but I don’t remember for sure. If you eat too much Fenugreek you will smell like maple syrup.

Lighting: A little bit goes a long way with LEDS (light emitting diodes) and having no light is no fun. So you can easily prepare for the bare minimum for your “camping trip” with a few flashlights (if they have a long run times). I made and modified my own but there are some available for cheap that have run times of over 100 hours if you look around. Be sure to test any of them that you buy to make sure they really do what they are supposed to do and are reliable. In my opinion and experience, most of the shake lights and crank lights are junk. If you are planning for a short to medium camping trip you are better off with a few led flashlight with batteries that have long run times (also have some spare batteries) If you are planning for the power grid to go down and never work again (no electricity from the wall outlets) there are solutions to this problem that will provide minimal lighting, without batteries, reliably for years. That will be for another letter some other time. Candles for lighting are dangerous in my opinion.

Toilet Paper. Stock up. You know you will use it anyway. If you run out there are leaves and things. T.P. is better.
Sanitation: I am planning on cutting up trash bags to use as liners for the toilet if there is no running water. I have stocked up on rolls of trash bags. I think I need more tape.

Cooking. Or not. Most of what we have can be eaten raw. I did some testing with candles and found that you can heat up a can of ravioli with a single candle flame in about 20 -30 minutes (just very warm. I don’t think it ever boiled). Multiple flames can be used for larger meals (I need to do more testing). I also have a single burner coleman stove and some of the 1 pound tanks of propane that are used with it. Both are cheap. Never leave your fire unattended in a “camping” situation. Never use propane stoves indoors.

Communications. I have a couple of battery operated radios. I also have a power converter that plugs in the cigarette lighter outlet in a car. It is the type where you dial in the voltage and it has 4 or 5 different plugs for different portables. You can easily fry your radio with one of these due to the wrong voltage dialed in or the wrong polarity. I also have a cheap tiny short wave radio (receiver only) to find out what is going on around the world and a small hand held CB transceiver to find out what is going on around the neighborhood. I bought the CB over 20 years ago for fun. I probably would not buy one today if I did not have one.

Fire Fighting: I have about 5 fire extinguishers around the house. They are good to have around anyway. I think that having at least one for ”at home camping” is essential because you can’t call 911 if the phones don’t work.

“That’s it?” you say? No. Next are helpful suggestions to implement the above list and increase the odds of you having a good “camping trip”.

1. Test and use your equipment and supplies. Don’t just buy a coleman stove. Use it now and then at least until you burn through one tank so you have an idea how much cooking you can do. Don’t just by seeds and beans to sprout. Do some sprouting. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation with tools and food that you can’t use.

2. Step through a day of camping. What I mean is, write down what you think you are going to do, step by step throughout the day. As you do this, you don’t need to do each step but you do need to go get the stuff for each step. For example, you are going to get a drink of water. So you go to where your water is supposed to be. Is it there? You are planning on running water through a brita filter since it has been sitting around for a while. Do you have a filter? You step through the alternate steps also. The water is running but the water may not be safe to drink because of a quake. Or you know it is not safe because it cloudy. Do you have your red cross instructions for water purification? Do you have bleach? Later, you want to cook something. Do you have matches? How many?

3. Decide how many days you are planning to go “camping” and how many people may be along for the trip. This will help a lot with planning for water.

4. Decide now if you are going to be overly helpful to the neighbors. I would suggest to initially be as low key (out of sight, out of mind) as possible and also hide the presence of your supplies and equipment. You can always change your mind later. But if everybody knows you are the go to guy for supplies they will go to you repeatedly and later on not accept “no” for an answer. As the saying goes in this situation,” If you help someone once you will help them again”. I would prefer that people who find themselves in a desperate situation and are going to cross the line of what is and is not legal to their thing during the wee hours of the morning at a closed grocery store or restaurant rather than at my house.

5. Deal with all of this like a hobby. You don’t have to do everything tomorrow (I say that now but I could be wrong) and you can look for deals on what you want to buy. Every time our walmart has those big seasonal candles with 3 wicks on clearance I buy a few.

6. If you are serious about this, don’t lose your vision. Why are you pursuing this? If you forget, keep in mind that in the last 100 years there have been 2 world wars, one worldwide killer flu epidemic, the use of nukes as weapons of war, the great depression, lots and lots of natural disasters, regime changes, revolutions and genocides, more natural disasters. Oh yes, and as the world’s supply of non-renewable sources of energy decline while populations increase and third world countries try to modernize, the governments, corporations and consumers of the world will push against the physical limits of the earth in what will eventually be a self-defeating death spiral to preserve the impossible paradigms of continual improvement (I must have things better than my parents had and my kids must have things better than I have)and continual growth (“nothing can grow forever” ), self sufficiency, preparedness and frugality will go a long way. Or I could be happily mistaken. Let’s hope so.

7. Your life and your well being are your responsibility. Whatever you decide to do or not do is entirely up to you and you will have to live with your decisions. I have decided to not spend a lot of money, and make what I do spend really hit the mark. I think what I have, might look small in comparison to what I expect to be able to do. If I come up short, that will be my problem.
That’s all for now. If you want “more” just try this: Google: 100 things preparedness or Survival or emergency kit. You can start reading and never stop. If you want, I can dive into the subject of “What poor folks like us can do “on the cheap” to have at least a fighting chance to survive if the supply chain stays broken for months” ” (end).

He got back to me a week later and told me he had not thought through or planned for the toilet paper issue. That made this worth the effort.



Now is a good time for a quick double check to see if you are ready to wake up tomorrow and not step off your propperty for a very long time.

Prepping: Last Minute Double Check: Sanitation, Food, Water, Lighting, Fire Fighting. – 15 minute audio


See also:

You can double the calories and volume of almost any can of food for less than 50 cents?

You can cook with 3 candle flames?

You can drastically reduce cooking fuel consumption with a thermos?

You can make a really good bean sprouter for less than a dollar?

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    Total 11 comments
    • Alienman UK

      Many of us, when children have camped in our gardens at home, but nowhere have I ever seen someone suggesting practicing camping in our homes. When the lights go out and we are cut off by snow, freezing temperatures or floods, a couple of easily store-able dome tents to erect ‘inside’ our homes could be the difference between life and death or the hell of being evacuated to a community/FEMA shelter/camp.

      You might have all your survival supplies stashed in your home, but if you have no survival pod against the elements in your home you will be forced to evacuate, leaving them all behind. Such a simple oversight that would have cost you little?

      • Smiddywesson

        A tent would be best if the roof is breached, however it would have to be one heck of a lot of damage to make the whole house leak.

        Sort of that, a tent would be nice, but isn’t necessary. In terms of temperature, a cardboard box would work as well, or even stacking up the cushions on the sofa and playing “fort.” From a practical standpoint, if you want to sleep well, you want to sleep in your own bed. One thing to remember is that houses in the past didn’t have central heating but people did just fine. They used to have canopies on their beds and bed curtains to keep warm and snug in their beds. They also used bed warmers. Fill up a tube sock with hot rocks or sand, that ought to do the trick.

    • wirkbot

      By the way, I mentioned in the letter that I was going to do a follow up letter on lighting if the grid were to go down. That is still on the to do list but if you are interested, here is how I have overcome the lighting problem during a long term outage. Also I have included the links to some of the flashlight modifications and product testing (including a 360 hour run time flashlight mod for $5.00).


      • wirkbot

        Get stocked up on emergency food quickly (one store run) and for very little money here:


        You can buy better food but this is quick and inexpensive. It might be a good start if you have not yet started preparing for an emergency.

    • Smiddywesson

      Easy Prepper Lighting:

      Put a lot of solar landscaping lights along walkways in the yard.

      Stock some coffee cans with sand in them.

      If the power goes out, distribute the coffee cans around the house, pluck the lights off the lawn, and plant them in the cans.

      If your lights don’t last all night, you can remove the batteries from half when the sun goes down, and they will be fresh when you need them.

    • wirkbot

      More prepper stuff:

      I was never a fan of candles until I did some testing and found out you can do some serious cooking with them. Also note that it is safe cooking indoors.

      You can also use them to heat up water and therefore melt snow as a source of water.

      I have added a whole batch of sprouts to a can of progresso soup along with some more water and then boil it. It is better than plain sprouts and it double the amount of soup. So in a camping at home situation (disaster/emergency) Sprouts will be filler for all kinds of food. You could potentially double your preps with sprouts.

      Instructions for how to make and use the sprouter here:

      For a little bit of variety you may want to get some several types of beans and seeds for sprouting. I have pinto beans as part of my preps. I don’t really like them and they do not sprout very well so I have some black eyed peas, mung beans, garbanzo beans and more for sprouting. This is a source of greens without sun light.

    • stevesmitty79

      People in a transient survival situation that are not at a bugout location need to have a 30-60-90 day duration mentality to survive any event that disrupts society as a whole. It will take at least that long for the smoke to clear and the vast initial majority of problems to settle out. By then, many people will be a statistic and then comes another set of challenges. But, initially, one needs to take a hard look at their resources and what will likely change and not be available to them during such an event. Assuming one has a decent supply of food and water and has maintained opsec/radio silence/blackout conditions that won’t make them a target for the desperate masses in the first few weeks, people need to consider the changes in routine that can make surviving stressful. Taking a shower everyday will become a thing of the past. A lot of people can’t survive without a hot shower every day. I know that sounds pathetic, but a lot of worldly women I know think it would be better to be dead than without a hot shower. What will you do? I already live a survivalist life now. I am remote. I have a shower, but I don’t shower every day. Not necessary. But, if I were in a pinch, I would take a Navy shower with a few wet wipes, a cup of water and some unscented deodorant until I could prepare a hot shower later. No need to stress over that at all. AND you don’t want ot look all cleaned up to others, anyway. That will tip them off that you’re prepared, if you’re showered and smelling like strawberries. What about hot food? Not necessary, especially during the initial phases of SHTF. People will be drawn like a magnet to cooking food, no matter how well you prep against it. No hot food prep during the 30/60/90 day period until you are CERTAIN it will not compromise your security. Have plenty of easy prepared foods like MREs. Just lay them out in sunny window sill for a bit of warm up and eat away. No one will know what you are eating. No flushing toilets. But a couple of big bags of peat moss. Ten bucks a bag that will last months for covering #2. Add some ashes to absorb odors when using a bucket inside. No need for plastic bags. Use a large bucket with an improvised seat and use adequate sealing. It should last a week for several people. #1 in sealed containers and empty outside every night. Dig a shallow hole and dump the #2 contents out and cover with a light layer of dirt. There are lots of ways to improvise to make the stress and trauma of SHTF easier during the initial phase. Be thoughtful, practice your planes to test them. Improvise and be smarter than others when it comes to these simple ideas. As for security, have some form of self defense, but keep in mind passive strategies. The “smell of death,” that is bodies decomposing keeps a lot of people away. Especially when they’re hungry. Nothing turns an empty stomach faster than the smell of dead decaying flesh. I’m not necessarily taking about dead people here. But, they’ll be plenty of dead animal carcasses, and strategically placed to “run” off others and not overwhelm you would be an effective and passive tactic that would take care of a lot of “passer-by’s.” Good luck in your preps.

    • wirkbot

      Well Said.

      I have seen the idea of putting a tent in your living room in a survival situation in print before. I suppose it could be added to the article but this letter was written to my friend who also lives in California (we have heard of snow). I left the letter as is. This was what was applicable in my friend’s situation. I do appreciate the comment. It is a very useful idea because body heat will be retained in the tent making a difficult situation more manageable.

      I hope there will be many other useful additions to the basic idea of camping at home.



    • Smiddywesson

      Fortunately, I have a basement in Mississippi, so I am sheltered from most of the cold on the relatively few extreme cold days of the year, and the summer heat if the grid goes down. If something happens we can just move downstairs. My neighborhood doesn’t have natural gas, so I have a 250 pound propane tank under the front lawn. When hurricane Issac came, I purchased a propane generator and the smallest window AC unit I could find. I can’t cool the whole house, but I will sleep in comfort and be relatively cool during the day. I can’t recommend the propane generators enough. They don’t cost any more than gas and a whole lot cheaper than diesel. They always start and you don’t have to worry about storage, carburators, or stabilizing fuel. In a lights out situation, you will be able to find propane a whole lot easier than gasoline (I think). Also, if you look in Craigslist, you will see that extra tanks in the 50lb – 100lb range are easy to come by and propane stores longer and safer than gas.

    • Smiddywesson

      Buy a cheap tent, cut out the bottom, place it over your own bed, and sleep in comfort. I’m not sleeping on the damn floor in my own home.

      Your bed doesn’t need to be in a huge room that is difficult to heat. Move it to the smallest room in the house to keep warm, or better yet, into a big closet.

      If you don’t have a basement, move your bed upstairs, heat rises. Similarly, elevate your bed as high as you can in the room you choose to sleep in. If you are handy, get some 2x4s and build a loft. If not, ditch the frame and put the boxspring and mattress on top of your dining room table, a lumber pile, or just every other mattress and boxspring in the house.

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