How to Prepare Your Home:
The Best Way to Survive Disaster

Last Updated on January 3, 2022 by John Martin
How to Prepare Your Home to Survive Disaster
Why are you going to need to prepare really soon?

In the past few months, think of all you’ve seen on the news… unemployment, underemployment, trouble stocking store shelves, utility outages, severe floods, hurricanes and riots.

And then there are those unexpected big expenses you face – like when your furnace fails or you get hit with health problems and massive medical bills.

Only a couple years ago, people expected the usual. Gulf states get pounded with floods and hurricanes. Ice and blizzards bury the northeast. Droughts, earthquakes and wildfires hit the western states. And with tornadoes in the midwest? Somebody’s bound to lose a home.

But now, severe catastrophes are appearing in totally unexpected places. And woefully unprepared people are out of their minds with panic.

Why prepare your home?

Most of us can’t afford a second cabin in the woods. And in a disaster, the road to that cabin  might be blocked by flood waters or angry mobs anyway.

Sometimes you can’t escape before the disaster strikes. And sometimes it just makes sense to stay put.

How do you decide whether to stay at home or evacuate?

Most people living in the city assume that if anything happens, they’ll need to get out of that crazy place. I understand. I once lived in New York City.

But here’s why I had to change my thinking. You can’t ever assume that you’re just going to leave… or you’re going to stay at home. At least before the disaster. Because the unexpected will happen and you’ll have to adapt.

Even if you do have that cabin in the woods… and you’ve rehearsed getting there a hundred times… leaving home is a last resort. You’re still leaving the known to face the unknown.

Just getting to your remote safe place is still an unknown.

Good for you that you’ve rehearsed a hundred times. That training might help keep you from becoming a victim of the panicked hordes who suspect travelers like you will have survival supplies.

Your odds of surviving are almost always much better at home.

That said, it’s a no-brainer if the authorities tell you to leave. Yes, there is a point at which it’s much safer to evacuate. And it’s okay to decide that point beforehand. In fact, it’s a good idea. And you should’ve already packed a go bag before you prepare your home for survival.

Okay, prepare your home…but what should you expect?

Those convenient services we all expect may suddenly be gone.. leaving you without heat, cooling, light or sanitation.

And to be honest, you really don’t know when you’ll be in this situation for an extended period of time.

Imagine you need to survive at home with no utilities, you don’t how long it’ll be that way and there’s no way to find out. All you have are your supplies and skills.

Think of what’s in your pantry now. If the food in your fridge was warming, would the tools and supplies in your garage or closet keep you going?

Could you and yours last a month or even 2 weeks in your home… cut off from all contact with the outside?

And this is for everybody, not just the fanatical…

Some people live for doomsday. (At least what they think it will be.) But expert wisdom and real life experience proves… your preparation is not just a game or an excuse to indulge in crazy military fantasies.

Two weeks is a really long time if your cupboards are bare, you’re facing the stress of a crisis and the neighborhood outside your door is in panic.

If possible, in your local situation, it’s wise to have a reserve of water, non-perishable food and basic necessities. We’re not talking bunkers, missile silos or spending your life savings for stockpiling/hoarding.

Even if you’re the normal, cash-strapped everyday person with a  family that’s not 100% excited about preparing for disaster… you can still do much to get ready!

How do you start preparing?

  • DON’T buy pre-made kits… 99% of them aren’t worth the money. (They include worthless junk and leave out the truly important stuff.)
  • DON’T think you can’t be bothered to build your own supply kit
  • DON’T just buy some gear, throw it in your closet, pat yourself on the back and check this preparation thing off your list

This is not just about supplies – it’s about making lifesaving plans and learning lifesaving skills too.

If you’re on a budget, it’s better to buy just a few higher quality things – even DIY or second-hand – than to get stuff at the local dollar store.

What are your highest priorities?

Get your health and finances in order. These are the most likely calamities you’ll face in life.

If you’re like my diabetic mom was, and you know Twinkies are killing you but you’re gorging on them anyway? This is probably the first place to start.

And a $500 surprise expense would put most Americans in debt. Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover has a relatively easy, hope-inspiring emergency fund and debt reduction plan… even if you’re living hand-to-mouth.

If you don’t already have these money and health matters in place… just go buy twenty 1-gallon jugs of water. Almost everyone can afford this $20 prep.  And then work on your money and health.

(If you have this much clean water stored in the home, you’ll likely live through the crisis, even if you’re quite hungry.)

Next, assess your biggest risks. For example, do you live in a hurricane zone? Get some storm shutters. Tornadoes common? You need a basement, storm shelter or at least an inner room without windows.

Get Your Family Involved

Get your family involved. Ask them which preparation projects they think the family should work on. Decide as a family which things need to be done if you had an emergency next month.

But be discreet about mentioning time and money for these projects.

Keep the discussion light, respectful, and restrain yourself so there is no argument. Where there is no wood, fires go out. The same is true with arguments. You can’t control others, but you can control your reaction.

Having family support is ideal. So your family should know about the time and money involved. And your prep plans, including what to do in various situations.

You may have to talk about these matters a little at a time. Mention a little bit… toss the ball and see if they toss it (without throwing it) back. If not, try again later. This is way better than having an angry family and forcing people to do something just because they should. (See the book How to Win Friends and Influence People.)

Getting your family on the same page is one of your most important preps.

How can you prepare, even with a super tiny budget? FIFO!

Only in the last few decades do people assume they can buy whatever they want, whenever they want it. Our grandparents didn’t think this way. They knew about FIFO (first in, first out) and they lived this way.

It’s a simple, easy way to build up supplies without much extra money or effort. You just buy a little extra each trip to the store.

And before long, you have your own little corner convenience store in your home… except it only has the things you want/need.

Here’s an example: let’s say you eat beans 2 times a week. You buy your groceries twice a month. Without using FIFO, you usually buy 4 cans of beans every trip to the store. So you never have more than 4 cans in your home.

With FIFO, you still eat the same (4 cans in 2 weeks), but you buy 6 cans of beans each trip to the store. (It’s less than a couple dollars extra.) At the end of 2 weeks, you buy 6 more, stocking those behind the 2 extra you didn’t eat.

When you eat beans, you take out the first-stocked, oldest cans in the front. And as you repeat this, you add to your extra supplies. Just think, in 4 trips to the store, you’ve built up an extra 8 cans… enough for 2 weeks. Powerful, right?

Oh, you hate beans? Okay, adapt this to whatever non-perishable food item you’d eat.

And if life throws you a curveball (an unexpected expense comes up) and you can’t pay for the extras? No problem. Just eat from your already-stocked-at-home extras until you can start FIFO-ing again.

Grab a Sharpie or any permanent marker. Write the purchase date, (some also write an expiration date), on the can in MMYY format. For example, September 2022 would be 0922.

With this new inventory method, you’ll be far less likely to waste any food.

How long should you prepare for?

Agencies like The Red Cross recommend supplies for 3 days when you evacuate… but why not 2 weeks for supplies at home?

Yet many experts say even two weeks is a bare minimum. So you could start with 3 days, but work up to at least 2 weeks. Two months is far better.

With the recent earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and wildfires… people are stranded at home for weeks, even a month or two, not for days.

So your minimum goal is to keep your family somewhat comfortable for 2 weeks, with no utilities, internet, 911, hospitals, etc.


Why should you pick a survival area in your home?

You can’t keep the whole house running if the utilities are off. Even if you have a good solar generator. You’ll want to determine ahead of time a place where you can be warm/cool, dry and safest from the crisis. 

Which part of your home is the best for this?

If you live in tornado alley, then your basement is a good choice. But if you live in the gulf, a flooded basement is the last place you’d want.

For many kinds of emergencies, an above-ground, windowless room closest to the center of the house is ideal.

Not everybody will have the perfect room for this. Just pick the best one you have.

When choosing an area, think of how much room it will take to make a sleeping and tiny living area for your family and pets.

Safe Area

If your supplies can’t fit in this area, make sure they’re in a room next to your safe area. You also want a bathroom or another closed-off area nearby for sanitation.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your garage is a secure place. High winds and determined people can open a garage door a lot easier than the other doors on your home.

How should you store supplies?

Put your go bag, first aid kit and supplies together in your safe area. Make sure everyone in the family understands this area is dedicated to emergency supplies only.

This means don’t touch this stuff except in an emergency.

Having your gear in one place can be a life-or-death matter. Picking things out of your emergency supplies for a camping trip leaves your supplies scattered. Emergencies always happen at an unexpected time. Don’t let the headlamp you depend on be lost somewhere in the basement packed away with the camping stuff.

Basement Boxes

What to do in an emergency

The best way to prepare your safe area is to think of what you’d actually do in an emergency.

  • Prepare now so you can locate your supplies quickly then
  • Know where your light source is so you’re not wasting time fumbling in the dark
  • Get your family and pets into the safe area

  • You may need to move supplies to a safer part of the home. After all, some part of the emergency will be unexpected
  • Locate your emergency kit
  • Make sure cell phones and batteries are fully charged
  • Collect additional emergency water in bathtub and from your water heater if possible
  • You may also need to cover or seal off doors and windows
  • Check your TV, radio, weather radio and social media for info about the emergency
  • If there’s an evacuation order but for some reason you cannot leave, let the authorities know, if possible
  • Review this list and add anything your family will need to do
  • Rehearse these steps with your family


Why do you need to have an emergency water supply?

Many kinds of disasters… hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes… can poison your tap water with sewage, salt-water or agricultural waste.

You need enough water to wash your hands, care for your teeth and handle medical needs.

And of course the water you need to drink to live. People can only survive 3 days without it. Even 1 day without water brings you absolute misery.

How much water should you store?

The U.S. Institute of Medicine says adult women need 91 ounces (3/4 gallon) of water each day. Adult men need 125 ounces (about 1 gallon) per day. If you eat right, you’ll get about 20% of your water in the food you eat. Can you get by with less than this? Of course, but not if you want to stay healthy.

Best rule of thumb? One gallon per person per day just for drinking. Double that for health and sanitation uses.

Yes, this is twice the amount the government recommends.

But when you do the math, you’ll see this is much safer.

This is 14 gallons per person per week. So if you have a family of 3 and you plan for the minimum of 2 weeks, you’ll want to store 84 gallons.

How should you store this water?

You want individual containers instead of a big tank. This reduces the chance of losing your entire water supply from contamination.

Avoid unclean water. Invest in proper storage. You don’t want to use milk jugs or other makeshift containers for drinking water.

The WaterBrick was designed for easy stacking and it’s super portable.

If you’re on a tight budget and you have room in your safe area, you can buy commercially bottled water jugs and just stack them on shelving.

if you’re going to ignore all this and bottle your own… then you have to wash and rinse your bottles super carefully.

Water Storage

For an empty, used 2 liter bottle, drop in 2 teaspoons of unscented bleach, fill with water and let stand for an hour. Rinse very thoroughly and immediately fill with water. Add 2 drops of bleach (one drop per quart), cap tightly and store.

Yes, it’ll still be water in 10 years, but FEMA recommends you empty and replace all non-commercially bottled water every 6 months.

What else can help?

In an emergency, no one wishes they had less clean water stored.

Don’t assume you’ll be able to collect extra water, but if possible, at the first sign of disaster… fill your tub. And empty your hot water tank (using the drain spigot at the bottom) into containers.

Collect Extra Water

Even water in the top of your toilet tank may be fairly clean if you didn’t use those dissolving chemical tablets in it.

Your go bag should have at least one portable water filter in it. You can also get the countertop kind as backup.

Backup ways to purify water include boiling. Make sure it comes to a rolling boil for at least a minute. You can also add a drop of unscented bleach per quart of water and let it stand for an hour before using.

But in an emergency, just try to collect the water. Don’t worry about filtering it until later – you have higher priorities.


Why you need one…

Most people would quickly lose most of their food if the electricity failed.

With no power, you can count the life of most fridge food on one hand. Dairy and meats spoil first. (Make that your first meal in an emergency.) And then start on the food in your freezer.

But how long could you live on the food you have in your home?

Food Reserve Priorities

Canned or vacuum sealed food is your best bet. It’s far cheaper than buying boxes of camping food or MRE’s.

Unless you’ve already prepared a 2 month reserve of non-perishable food, don’t focus on gardening or hunting.

How Do You Begin Preparing Your Food Reserve?

Healthy food is home-prepared fresh food. In fact, you may shop on the outer aisles of the supermarket to avoid all the preservatives. And this is a good idea most of the time.

But non-perishable (survival) food – the kind that lasts longer than a few months on a shelf – comes from those inner aisles of the store.

What to look for

  • Long shelf life (at least 6 months, but a year is better)
  • Nutrient dense: a package of chips is the same size as a package of dry beans. The chip bag is mostly air while the beans have all the calories
  • Easy to store (doesn’t need refrigeration or melt on a warm day)
  • Nutritious: okay, maybe not as healthy as fresh broccoli but not Doritos and Mountain Dew either
  • Whatever fits any diet restrictions (gluten or dairy free, for example.)

If it’s not your normal habit to cook with these kinds of foods, go ahead and start getting used to eating these ingredients some of the time. Consider it part of your preparations. You’ll still eat very well and the time/effort is a most valuable investment.

How do you prepare food when utility services fail?

BBQ grills, fireplaces, fire pits and burn barrels are great if you can use them in the kind of crisis you face. Outdoors is best. You add risk having a fire indoors.

Fire Pit

You can cool foods in root cellars, using clay pots for evaporative cooling, or even cold streams, creeks, springs or snow.

The best survival food prep methods don’t require extensive man-made power or fuel. But you’ll want to have something to fall back on if you can’t use these.

Many modern camp stoves can run on bottled propane or white gas. But be careful. Many of these are designed to be used outside. They can burn a lot of oxygen and create potentially deadly carbon monoxide.

Many camping and RV appliances, such as hot pots, coffee makers and heating elements work on 12 volts. This is handy if you can still use your car. Otherwise, you’ll need some good solar panels and a solar generator to use these.

The best way to prepare? Start looking for recipes and foods you enjoy that require little or no cooking.

How much food should you store for emergencies?

Most people can get by on 1500 calories a day. Some quick multiplication tells you to get 21,000 calories per person for 2 weeks. And 90,000 calories per person for 2 months. But it’s not really that simple.

Food fatigue is a very real thing if you’re going to be eating out of your stores for weeks. Your body and taste buds will get tired of certain foods. So you need a variety.

Avoid Food Fatigue

Make it part of your lifestyle to begin cooking and using (rotating through) your stored food on a regular basis. Remember the FIFO method?

Learn what you like and dislike. Which sauces, flavorings and spices you prefer. This is really the best way to know how long your supply will last.

Food ideas?

  • Dried fruits and vegetables: raisins, dried corn, carrots, instant mashed potatoes, soup packets, textured vegetable protein, imitation bacon bits
  • Squash (a naturally shelf-stable food)
  • Grains: rice (brown lasts a few months, white lasts almost forever), instant oats, popcorn, flour (mill your own whole wheat flour as you need it or just store the white stuff), cornmeal, pasta, quinoa, instant grits, ramen noodles
  • Beans and legumes: pinto, black, kidney, peas – canned and dry
  • Meats: canned chicken, Spam, sardines, salmon, tuna, Vienna sausages, country ham, dried ready-to-eat bacon, jerky (the homemade goes bad quicker than those with all the mystery preservatives)
  • Nuts and granolas (most of these only last 6 months)
  • Fats: peanut butter (“healthy” kinds last 6 months, others last a year), vegetable oil, olive oil, coconut oil, canned coconut milk, lard
  • The baking aisle: imitation pancake syrup, powdered milk, cocoa, baking powder/soda, corn starch, yeast, jello and cake mixes
  • Spices: salt, pepper, white vinegar (doubles as cleaning agent), soy sauce, sugar (brown clumps but the good ol’ white stuff doesn’t), honey, cinnamon, garlic powder, oregano, basil, etc.
  • Drinks: Kool-Aid, instant coffee/tea, Gatorade, fruit and vegetable juices
  • Evaporated milk for food flavoring and coffee creamer
  • Almond, soy and other shelf stable milks (they usually last about 6 months)
  • Baby formula
  • And don’t forget the pet food: Fluffy likes the dry and wet kinds

Other items

A manual can opener, a few packs of heavy-duty disposable plates, cups, bowls, spoons, and rolls of paper towels will make life a lot easier.


Why do you need more than a gallon per person per day?

You need more than drinking water to maintain good hygiene and keep yourself healthy.

Especially for brushing your teeth and washing your hands.

Water for Good Hygiene

When water is limited, what are your hygiene priorities?

Washing your hair is low priority. Except for underwear and socks, washing your clothes is an even lower priority.

If someone in your family would rather die than miss a day taking a shower or washing their hair… now is the time to start gently, patiently and kindly trying to reason with and influence them. Disaster situations are different. You’ll all need to save water to survive.

What hygiene supplies should you set aside?

  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Camp soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Tissues
  • Garbage bags
  • Dental care (toothpaste, floss, brush)
  • Dry shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Duct tape
  • Bleach
  • At least 2 5-gallon buckets with lids
  • Kitty litter, lime or sawdust
  • Disposable diapers, if needed for babies or those with incontinence

Why do we need to talk about toilets?

If you live in the city or even a small town, your home is likely tied to a public sewer system. There are many kinds of crises (flooding, earthquakes, etc.), that would cause these systems to fail.

If there is any doubt they are working, you must not flush the toilet. If you do, you will likely cause sewage to back up and contaminate the clean water lines in your home!

If you have your own private septic system… 

If you haven’t been hit with an earthquake, a flood or other reasons to believe things won’t flush right – and it’s just your clean water service that’s not working – you can still do the following to manually flush your toilet. Here’s how…

How to Manually Flush a Toilet

Remove the lid from the top of the toilet tank. Only put enough water in the tank so it will flush and then push the lever to flush.

Ration water based on how much you have. There’s no need to fill a 2 gallon toilet tank if you don’t know when you’ll be able to replenish your clean water reserves!

Why you need a backup plan for your toilet…

Nobody wants to run out of toilet paper. But this is a small problem compared to not being able to flush the toilet!

This is a very real and likely problem you need to prepare for. Let’s look at your best options.

No toilet paper

This means options that don’t require a conventional sewage system.

Passive solar composting toilets are effective if they get enough sunlight. And this requires enough room and money.

Specialty stores for campers offer small, portable, self-contained waterless toilets along with odor-controlling bags and deodorants. And of course, you still have to dispose of the waste bags.

Not everyone likes the thought of dig, squat and bury… but if the disaster allows you to go outside… this is one of the most sanitary toileting options.

Pick a spot at least 200 feet away from major water sources. Take a shovel and dig a trench 6 inches wide, 6 inches deep and several feet long. Each time you go to the bathroom, you cover over enough of the trench to bury the waste.

Not everyone will like this option, but it’s probably the best…

People love the convenience of a clean, modern bathroom. But let’s face it, in a disaster, you may have to return to pioneer living for a while.

Why are 5 gallon buckets the best option? You have no idea if the emergency you’ll face will allow you to go outside or not. So keep at least 2 buckets in your safe area for this. You can even buy toilet seats/lids that fit these buckets.

Here are some tips to keep this cleaner and more sanitary.

Store plenty of plastic bags with the buckets. You’ll want to double-line the buckets with bags. You don’t want a spill.

Tape the bags securely to the top of the bucket. Why two buckets? Keep liquids and solids separate, as much as possible. This makes everything easier to manage.

For the solids bucket, you’ll want to have lime, sawdust, other green compost materials or kitty litter nearby.

When you’re ready to put a bucket in service, simply line the bottom of the bag with about an inch of kitty litter or similar. After you go, you cover the waste with more kitty litter. When the bag is about 2/3 full, add more kitty litter and a bit of bleach or other disinfectant.

Tie the bag securely and move it to a larger lidded container away from your safe area.

All of this may seem somewhat uncivilized, but actually it keeps your small living area cleaner and lessens the risk of disease.


Prepare with your climate in mind

You know that extreme heat or cold can be life threatening.

For cold, you’ll want to store blankets and warm clothes. Be mindful that certain crises will not let you use your fireplace or wood stove. If you’re hiding, smoke coming out of the chimney advertises that you’re at home.

Store Blankets

Kerosene and propane heaters don’t require electricity to run. Newer models have carbon monoxide sensors that shut the unit off if the air gets toxic. If you get one of these, I recommend you also have a separate carbon monoxide sensor. This is too important to overlook. The reviews for these heaters reveal that the built-in sensors sometimes don’t work.

Or maybe you have a wood stove. Either way, how much wood and fuel will you need? A bare minimum is enough to heat your safe area for 30 hours. Add to this as you can. Obviously, in a catastrophe, you’d have to ration the fuel and not use it all at once.

And keep plastic, thick drapes or blankets to cover the doors and windows. This can help you hide, keep contaminants out and prevent heat loss.

For heat, you’ll want to find a place in the house that naturally stays cooler, such as the basement. Pack warm weather clothing. Open windows if it’s safe. Drink extra water and use a bit to soak your clothes.

Prepare for Hot Weather

Small, rechargeable, battery-powered fans are also very useful.


What kind of power sources should you have?

You may desperately need a headlamp that runs on AAA or AA batteries. Rechargeable batteries add an extra layer of safety. Instead of just a wall charger, why not get a unit that plugs into the wall and charges with solar power? Now you have an even larger safety net.

Your go bag should have a solar/wall charger, but a second one for the home is a great idea.

Most important, your cell phone is your lifeline. Prepare multiple ways to recharge it. Radios and laptops can also be a great help.

Chargers to Power Your Devices

When you add powered devices to your supplies, try to minimize the number of different types of batteries you use. For example, if you’re looking for a new headlamp and your other devices use AAA batteries, look for a headlamp that also uses AAA batteries. And of course, you’ll want to stock up on extra rechargeable batteries. Newer models can last a decade and be recharged a thousand times. So the extra cost for rechargeable batteries is often worth it.

Other power sources may not be essential for life, but they sure do add comfort. You can survive by eating a cold can of beans. But a gas generator can give you a hot plate of food, warm/cool your safe area and more.

Some generators run on gas, diesel, propane or tri-fuel. But you’ll have to consider storing the fuel, the noise level and air quality risks.

Solar generators are coming down in price and becoming a great alternative. Jackery makes a 1000W solar generator that pairs with its solar panels. Add a couple panels and you can charge the battery in about 7 hours with good sunlight. This can power your blender, a small fridge, an instant pot, a microwave or even a few kinds of small heating elements.

In a crisis, even the trees in your yard can become a low-cost fuel source for cooking and warmth. A small saw is a very helpful addition to your survival materials.


A long-considered short list…

  • Axe
  • Saw
  • Shovel
  • Work gloves
  • Gas line wrench
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape
  • Multitool
  • Knife
  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and straight)
  • Pliers
  • As much cash as you can reasonably afford to stash


Add a radio to your survival supplies

Your cell phone may have a radio app. But an old AM/FM radio is a good backup. A weather radio is a step up from this. There are many kinds of emergencies where a radio may be the only way to get the important info you need.

Radio for Survival Kit

Your go bag should already have a one or two-way radio.

Some have secured an amateur radio license so they can more reliably contact friends and loved ones. More people are seeing this isn’t just an old guys hobby but actually a real, legitimate need for emergencies.

Choose a rallying point

Decide which friends and relatives outside your immediate area to notify in case of disaster. Plan when, how and possibly where you can meet or talk with them in an emergency.


What kind of lights should you have in your supplies?

An LED headlamp with rechargeable batteries is best. Get an LED flashlight with rechargeable batteries too. Newer models are water/weather resistant and last many hours on one charge.

Add to this at least one LED camping lantern with rechargeable batteries.

Each of these lights has a different purpose. The headlamp keeps your hands free to work without holding the light. The flashlight allows you to focus the beam for doing intricate work in the dark. And the lantern is useful when you want to spread light over a wide area. All three of these are extremely useful in many types of crises.

Having non-powered backups like candles are good… just know they are not very kid or pet friendly.

And of course, this means you should have lighters, matches and backup fire starters. All of these should already be in your go bag.


Of all the things you prepare…

Okay, you’re reading this, so you’re careful. You’re not the kind of person who’s only going to have a box of band aids when a catastrophe happens.

Far too many people die unnecessarily. They weren’t killed when the earthquake collapsed the building or flood waters swept over. They suffered a small injury, got burned over a campfire, their leg was broken or they went into labor.

Survival First Aid

There were no medical supplies available or they just didn’t know what to do. Don’t be that person. You have a choice.

How do you get started?

At first, focus on your highest priority items – your go bag first aid kit.

Get a good medical guide. Here are 3 suggestions:

  • The Survival Medicine Handbook
  • Where There Is No Doctor
  • Where There Is No Dentist

Even reading these in small doses will make you more aware of the supplies you need. And give you all-important skills to survive.

And don’t just buy a kit. Pre-made kits are almost always junk. But suppose you happen to find that rare kit that has the important things you need. And the items are well made and won’t fail when you depend on them.

Best Survival First Aid Kit

The most important thing is still missing.

It’s far more important to know how to use those items than just to have them near you. And to know where those items are in your kit. When you or your loved one is screaming and bleeding and it’s pitch dark… that’s not the time to start figuring out your first aid kit.

The best survival first aid kit is the one where you have highest quality equipment you can afford, you know why every item is in there and where it is.

Remember FIFO? Just like with your food, rotate through your first aid supplies. Use them for everyday cuts and bruises. You’ll know what’s in your kit and you won’t have expired supplies when you need them most.

To use your first aid kit, you’ll also want…

  • Clean water for hygiene and wound care
  • Hands free light with rechargeable batteries
  • Flashlight with a tightly focused beam
  • Soap, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, bleach
  • Eye/face protection
  • Multitool
  • Fire making tinder, tools
  • Weather-appropriate clothes
  • Heater
Disinfectant First Aid
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Cling wrap
  • A camping or off grid refrigerator helps

What are some common supplies you should have?

  • Medical tape, silk (3+ standard rolls)
  • Rolled gauze (8+ standard rolls) – get gauze in bulk but packaged in smaller packets so you can use some and keep the rest sterile
  • Cotton balls (100+)
  • Cotton swabs (100+)
  • Trauma shears
  • Medical gloves (1+ box) – get nitrile not latex… you don’t know if the person you help will have allergies to latex
  • White petroleum jelly / Vaseline, 7.5 oz (2+)
  • Isopropyl alcohol 70%, 16 oz (4+)
  • Medical tape, plastic (3+ standard rolls)
  • Safety pins (at least 10, assorted sizes)
  • Mylar emergency blankets (4+)

What are some common diagnostic items you should have?

  • Thermometer – ideally a digital forehead model plus an analog backup
  • Writing materials: pen, permanent marker, waterproof paper
  • Time keeping device
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Pulse oximeter
  • Pen light – not just a headlamp – you want to have a tight, focused beam to clearly examine an ear, nose or throat
  • Blood glucose monitor and test strips – especially if someone is diabetic in the home
Home First Aid Diagnostic Items

Caring for cuts and wounds

  • Band-Aid variety pack
  • 60cc syringe with 18 gauge tip (this is 3 times larger than the 20cc item recommended for your go bag kit, but the tip is still the best size for this) to: flush out serious wounds and vacuum body fluids
  • Tweezers
  • Steri-Strips, 1/2″ x 4″ (30+)
  • Butterfly wound closures, 0.5″ x 2.75″ (50+)
  • Kelly forceps – no one ever wants to imagine needing to pry open a wound on themselves or a loved one… but this is an extremely valuable addition to your supplies
  • Tissue forceps
  • Magnifying glass to see small specks of contamination
  • Toothbrush – for first aid – in addition to the one in your dental kit
  • Tourniquet – you already have one in your go bag – having a second one at home is like a powerful insurance policy
  • Pressure bandage (3+)
  • Celox – a hemostatic agent with applicator; bleeding control agent can put on gauze, easy to wash away with water; if someone in your family is on blood thinners, you can imagine just how valuable this is
  • Tissue glue (Dermabond) better than super glue because it’s harder to reopen and clean a wound that was closed with super glue; just make sure to replace Dermabond after 2 years – the expiration date is important  on this one

What about medications?

Start with prescription and OTC meds and supplements your family depends on. Build a 3-day supply, then work up to a 2-month reserve.

And learn about medicinal plants, especially those growing in your area.

Medications and Supplements

Contrary to popular belief, they are just as powerful, and sometimes exceed mainstream medicine for all but the most dire emergencies.

Natural items like honey and apple cider vinegar relieve many problems. I think they’re very useful. If you use these, then store a reserve of them. Otherwise, they just take up precious space.

A long-time cancer survivor introduced me to their “medicine cabinet,” a collection of essential oils. I’ve personally found that diffusing or inhaling lavender quiets anxiety; roman chamomile improves sleep; peppermint relieves nausea, muscle pain/headaches, cramps; frankincense reduces inflammation.

Pack a drug reference guide. This can be very useful when you face a new, unknown health problem – something very likely to arise in the middle of an emergency that keeps you in your home.

Here are some some common OTC items you may want to put in your reserve:

  • Contraceptives
  • Vicks VapoRub
  • Tylenol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Alka Seltzer Cold and Flu
  • Tums / Calcium Carbonate
  • Saline eye wash (1 quart) – lasts for years; better than plain water for flushing chemicals and particles
  • Imodium / Loperamide
  • Dulcolax / Bisacodyl
  • Aleve / Naproxen sodium
  • Sudafed / Pseudoephedrine
  • Gas-X / Simethicone
  • Pepto-Bismol (pills store better than liquid)
  • Lidocaine Cream
  • Metamucil / Fiber
  • Bayer Chewable /
  • Long-Acting Antihistamines / Zyrtec / Allegra / Claritin
  • Dramamine Non-Drowsy / Meclizine
  • No-Doz / Caffeine
  • Pepcid / Famotidine
  • Hydrocortisone Cream
  • Calamine Lotion
  • Aspercreme / Trolamine Salicylate
  • Lactaid / Lactase
  • Pedialyte / Electrolyte powders
  • Mucinex / Guaifenesin
  • Benadryl / Diphenhydramine

Burn gel is an important addition too. You could mix your own with tea tree oil, aloe gel and lidocaine. But buying packets is probably a better idea. It’ll keep your supply from drying out.

Burn Gel

What bone and joint first aid items should you have on hand?

Expert sources recommend the following:

  • ACE Wrap / Elastic Bandage (4+)
  • Instant Cold Pack, 6″ x 9″ (10+)
  • Reusable Cold Pack, 4″ rounds (10+)
  • Knee, Ankle, Wrist and Elbow Elastic Braces (1+ Each)
  • SAM Splint / Aluminum Splint, 36″ (1+)
  • Cravat / Triangular Bandage, Large 45″ x 45″ x 63″ (1+)

    Dental Care

      Besides the obvious supply of toothbrushes, paste and floss, consider disinfectant mouthwash, a dental mirror, Orajel and clove oil to cope with tooth pain, dental wax for broken teeth and covering exposed nerves.

      You can make your dental clove oil by combining a few drops of clove essential oil with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. And whether homemade or bought, you’ll want to pack cotton balls for applying the oil.

      Despite the failure of most survival and first aid kits, dental kits are usually a good choice. Pack one for each family member.

      A dental reference guide can be a lifesaver. Check out the book “Where There Is No Dentist.”

        Feminine Items

        Experts recommend you stock pads rather than tampons for emergencies. Much easier to avoid infections.

        Monistat/miconazole is an antifungal that’s not only for yeast infections but useful for the rest of the family to cope with oral thrush, diaper rash, ringworm, athletes foot and jock itch.

        Survival experts also recommend Midol. It’s mostly made from Tylenol, caffeine, antihistamine and sometimes naproxen for relieving cramping and shedding. So it doesn’t hurt to have extra of these ingredients too.

        Stocking pregnancy tests? Experts say you should have at least 4. A simple suction bulb has saved the lives of countless newborns. If they’re having trouble breathing, you can use It to clean out their mouth/throat/nose.

        Pack a reference book about expecting, parenting and being a midwife, such as Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Many parents were relieved to have information like this at hand when there was no doctor to help.

        About pregnancy… doctors recommend prenatal vitamins. Stock supplements with at least 400 mcg of folic acid and 30 mg of iron. This protects against anemia and certain birth defects.


          One of your most vital security items is…

          Your cell phone. Just having a way to call for help makes many kinds of emergencies easier to deal with.

          What are your other security priorities?

          The first items you pack should be those you put in your go bag. The gear you choose depends on your personal views: pepper spray gel, a slingshot, a respirator and goggles, etc.

          After that, you might include heavier items not for carrying on your back: a ball bat, body armor, a DIY gas mask with activated charcoal, etc.

          What if dangerous people are outside your home?

          This is a situation you should prepare for.

          You want a home that looks harder than average to break into.

          And you don’t want to advertise that you’re home.

          Hiding from Dangerous People

          Making your home look occupied keeps burglars away. But not desperate home invaders. If you’re facing a crisis where you know that dangerous people could be outside, you want a home that looks empty.

          Your home should appear somewhat hard to enter, yet not like Fort Knox. Too much security and it looks like you’re hiding something valuable.

          How can you prepare? Follow the link above to see how to make your home more secure. The next step is making your home look empty…

          Make sure you have curtains that can completely block all light. Practice lighting your survival area and checking to see if it’s visible from the outside. Put a stronger door on the survival area of your home. Plan a way to stash trash without the trash or you becoming visible.

          And even if it’s cold inside, you won’t want visible smoke or steam coming from your chimney.

          Why should you be prepared to escape?

          If you see something like this in your peephole, your first reaction should not be to shoot back!

          …Or even to defend your home! Your home is not a fortress. An army battalion does not live with you.

          Yes, keep your doors and windows locked. Yes, ask to see ID for anyone posing as an authority at your door. And yes, it’s true… once you let someone in, you are far less protected.

          But don’t risk your life preventing someone like this from entering.

          You’ll find martial arts experts who say the whole point is getting away from a fight. That only insecure people try to fight. Even if you think you do have the cards stacked in your favor.

          This is not a new plan because of the Breonna Taylor incident. Survival authorities have long said a gun battle is the last thing you want. Especially when medical care is limited.

          Instead, plan ahead now. Think of how to get into and out of your home and neighborhood. So simple, yet many people don’t even know how to open their garage door with the power off.

          And this is another reason to keep your car keys near your go bag.


          For space and size, it makes a lot of sense to make sure you have a copy of your important documents in your go bag.

            You might want to have a second file in your home that includes the originals. From time to time, go through and review what’s in there to make sure it’s truly important.

            Important Documents

            What documents should you keep together?

            • A list of important contacts and their information
            • Birth Certificate
            • SSN Card
            • Passport
            • Drivers License / State ID
            • Financial Account Info (all loans, credit card numbers, expiration dates, CVV codes and company contact phone numbers)
            • Titles / Deeds for Home and Car
            • Marriage Certificate
            • Parental Relationship Proof (especially if adopted or name changed)
            • Estate Planning Documents
            • Insurance – Health, Homeowners/Renters, Auto, Life and Other Types – including policy numbers, contact numbers and a photo inventory of your home and items covered
            • Pictures of family / friends (not only to help you endure and cope but to help you reconnect with them)
            • Medical History – Include Medications, Dosage, Allergies
            • Power of Attorney, Living Will and any Do-Not-Resuscitate Instructions
            • Vaccination Records for All Family Pets

            Make sure you pack some entertaining reading to help you cope. Kindle books on your iPad are great, but make sure you have some physical books too… in case you can’t use your electronic devices.


            You know that old saying? “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” Well, never is this more true than in a survival situation.

            If you’ve ever spent a day trapped inside a house that’s cold, dark and without power, you know this can be an extremely challenging and emotional situation.

            Every day where things don’t return to normal means you must focus more effort on being positive and hopeful. The COVID pandemic taught us this.

            And whether it’s a pandemic, sewage situation or power outage, you often won’t know if the crisis will be over in minutes, hours or months.

            Some say survival is 1% utter terror and 99% absolute boredom.

            Shut in your home for a long time with no power, TV, movies or internet is boring.

            Prepare to pass the 99% sanely.

            Survival and Coping With Boredom

            You know better than I do what helps you cope…

            Keep your gadgets stocked with downloaded movies, music and games. But just in case you won’t be able to use them, choose something else besides your digital devices. Find some board games, books and hobby projects you like.

            A powerful tool you have to help you through…

            Some say your greatest resource is your own resourcefulness – your mind. You don’t need me to tell you how important it is to develop the skill of being adaptable.

            And being positive. Maybe pioneer living sounds fun right now. But it’ll be difficult to have fun if the family is arguing or despondent and you’re eating cold food.

            You can’t survive if your attitude isn’t where it needs to be. You’ll need to be determined to endure discomfort, even agony. And it’ll be absolutely essential you make up your mind that you’re going to survive.

            Do your best to take care of yourself

            Treat yourself to a book for a few minutes a day. Rest when you can. Do some daily hygiene. No shampoo or shower makes some people cranky. So at least  floss and brush your teeth. And wash your hands.

            Self Care in Emergency Situations

            Getting and staying comfortable is a priority. If power is limited, ration at least some light for a game or reading. Especially if you have solar recharging.

            Don’t underestimate the value of feeling at least a little bit normal. This can empower you to help others.

            What’s the best way to help others?

            Stay calm. It can keep you resourceful and responsible. It’s how you’ll get lifesaving tasks done.

            Not only this, others can read you. Don’t be surprised if everyone is moody, irritable, restless, depressed… or feeling helpless and terrified.

            Especially children, those chronically ill and older ones will need more reassurance that all will return to normal.

            You need a little of the indoor camping vibe mixed with a bit of life as usual. Try to eat and sleep on a schedule as much as possible.

            And prepare now before an emergency. It’s not a lone wolf activity. Even if there is no family nearby, it helps immensely to involve friends when you prepare.

            THE BOTTOM LINE IS...

            Home is usually the best place to survive. Take a lesson from the animals… they instinctively know that a familiar place is usually the best place to hide, hunker down or ride out a crisis.

            Home Disaster Preparedness

            If you’ve built a hideout in the middle of nowhere, and it’s a familiar place, that’s great too. Just have a backup plan in case you can’t get there.

            Make plans now so your friends, family and sources of help are close by. And so your skills and supplies are ready to use when you need them most. Remember that simple is best. And just because you’re preparing for the worst doesn’t mean you’ve given up on what’s good.

            Don’t let preparing overwhelm you. It’s not a few big impossible tasks. It’s a lot of small ones. Take them one at a time. Keep working at it. Soon you’ll see progress.

            Just take the first steps. Leave suggestions or tell me what you’re thinking in the comments section below. And share this article. The more everyone knows about this subject, the more prepared we all will be.

            And when you’re face to face with a catastrophe, you’ll feel better knowing you did what you could. Most people won’t be able to say that. You’ll never regret the reasonable and balanced effort you made to protect you and your loved ones.