Category Archives: Survival Manual

A place where we don’t take for granted, what we’ve taken for granted.

Senior citizen survival techniques

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Senior citizen survival techniques)

A.  Survival of the Elderly and Disabled
19 Dec 2013,, by James C. Jones, EMT/CHCM
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seniors in the day

The challenges of surviving a sustained catastrophic event for the elderly and the disabled are almost totally ignored by the “prepper” community.  Survival recommendations and training are almost always directed at healthy, younger people who are at their maximum strength and health.  Most preppers have or will have elderly parents or relations that may suffer from arthritis, heat disuse, COPD, and dementia at some point. My wife and I both lived in the inner city with disabled parents for decades.  For us, evacuation was just out of the question.  We were not going to abandon our responsibilities regardless of risk.  A few years ago I participated in a FEMA sponsored workshop on community preparedness.  We knew that there are people who need oxygen, chemotherapy, medications, dialysis and other treatments to survive more than a week or two.  Even more are aged or crippled with MS and other diseases that prohibit them from accessing food and critical needs without aid.  What we learned at that event was that there was little the emergency services could do for these folks under major disaster situations.  It is estimated that the majority of those over 70 years of age and those who are functionally disabled or medically dependent will die within the first thirty-days of a full –scale national disaster. [This should be a fair warning and wake up call for us seniors...take steps to beat those odds and to help prepare your junior family members for what might come as a surprise event for them. Mr. Larry]

If you are among the elderly or disabled or anyone important to you is, you need to adjust your plans accordingly.  If you have disabled parents, your whole survival plans are going to be limited and modified.  Evacuation may be impossible.  Rescue and defense may be the only option.  Disabilities (yours or other) and handicaps will reduce your chances, but it does not mean that you are doomed.  Realistic preparedness can provide a real chance for your survival regardless of conditions.

As we grow older (we all will) our capacity to carry loads for long distances is going to diminish.  In addition to muscle loss we are more prone to illness and sensitive to temperature extremes.  Heat diseases, COPD and arthritis may make any kind of “hiking” out of the question.  If you are living alone or with an aged partner you have two options:

1)  If you can move to a safer location away from the city and high populations do so.
2)  have a plan to drive or be driven to a safer area well before situations get critical.

If these are not an option or unlikely, plan to shelter in place as best you can. That means having water, food, warmth, medications and self-protection that works for you in your conditions.
Fire is your biggest threat to in place survival. Can you use a fire extinguisher?  You must have ways to escape a fire that works for you.
In the gravest extreme you still need to have some kind of evacuation pack.  Even if you can only carry or drag 5 to 10 pounds it’s far better than nothing.  A quart of water, medications, snacks, a flashlight a Space Blanket and a weapon will give you a big advantage.
If you can get a few hundred yards to some other shelter you have a chance.   Some perfectly healthy people will die from unpreparedness and giving up.  Some prepared and determined disabled folks will get through with a little luck and determination.

There are two classes of disability related to emergency situations.  We have the cooperative, but disabled who will aid in their own care to whatever extent they can and the uncooperative who may have dementia, or are just in violent denial.

This last category is very difficult to help. They may fight your efforts and even sabotage your plans and equipment.  Getting them to a care facility in advance is your best option, but keep in mind that many of these facilities were abandoned during hurricane Katrina and would be again.  They have good plans for limited time and area disasters, but not for massive collapse events.
Otherwise, you are going to have to care for them as best you can while dealing with survival and defense priorities.  The cooperative disabled may be able to aide significantly in their own preparations and survival actions depending on the extent of their problems.  You must discuss these issues with them now.
Build up supplies of everything they need (as above) at their location and show them what to do.  Give special attention to oxygen and critical medications they need. Have a plan to take them to safety or to your safe location ahead of an event.  If possible make arrangements with neighbors for their care until you can get to them.

seniors collage



B.  Prepping For Seniors, by Retired Rev.
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I became aware of the need for prepping too late to have the advantages associated with youth.  Seniors are already dealing with issues of declining physical prowess, declining health and a growing sense of mortality.  To add prepping to the list of concerns seemed more than a bit overwhelming, but given the realities of our day, prepping slowly became an unavoidable necessity as I began to understand that the economic path on which our nation is traveling is clearly becoming unsustainable and is getting worse, not better.

There was also the additional concern – shared by preppers of any age – of convincing my dear wife that my fears were well-founded and that prepping was seriously necessary if we were to have a chance to survive TEOTWAWKI.  So the first challenge to overcome when contemplating prepping as a senior is the same challenge as for younger preppers:  Becoming convinced that there is serious trouble ahead that will likely destroy the support systems on which we have all become far too dependent.

For me, that reality began to come home to me as I watched the unfolding of the current administration’s agenda to abandon private enterprise as an economic model and move toward a more socialistic, European model.  It still puzzles me that we can easily observe the disintegration of the economic well-being of European nations on our evening news broadcasts, and then decide to emulate them ourselves.  Human nature is a strange thing!  Regardless of the reasons, it became clear to me that there is no will to rectify the situation in Washington and that we are rushing pell-mell toward some sort of inevitable financial Armageddon.  Therefore, the only reasonable path for me was to begin prepping in earnest despite my age of 66 years.

At first my wife was not open to the idea of prepping at all.  Women don’t like their “nesting” instincts messed with and to assert that all that we have come to depend on (Social Security, pensions, health care systems, investments, and the like), might well come to an end in the reasonably near future, was and is very difficult for her to deal with.  It was understandable.  So, my initial efforts at raising her awareness consisted of providing a running commentary on the evening news.  As things in Europe began to deteriorate into economic chaos, I would just point out that if we think that we are immune to such things here, we’d better think again!  Then, when President Obama was re-elected for his second term, I turned to my wife and said, “Honey, I’m sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, but now we really do need to get serious about our prepping.”  The economic mess that has been created was not going to be addressed by the Obama administration.

Reading was essential to my preparation for prepping.  The first book that influenced me was 77 Days in September , by Ray Gorham.  This was a tale of a man on a business trip to Houston whose plane crashed on take off due to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States.  It chronicled his trip walking home to northwest Montana, and was a primer to cultural breakdown.  Additionally, I read James Wesley Rawles, Patriots, which served as a wealth of resources for prepping and was a whopping good story.  I couldn’t get my wife to read either one because they were both just too scary, but they helped me get prepping into focus for my family and I.

Another influence in raising my awareness was information from a friend of mine who subscribes to Richard Maybury’s Early Warning Report (  Mr. Maybury is a combination historian and economist whose writings are both eloquent and pointed respecting how history intersects with economics and whose writings were often the stuff of Ron Paul campaign speeches on the topics.  The subscription to Maybury’s publication is a bit pricey, but worth the investment.

My wife was still not really on board (the contemplation of economic chaos was just too unpleasant to deal with for her), so I determined that I would begin prepping on my own simply because it is my responsibility to provide for my wife, (our daughter is grown and gone), whether or not she approved of my efforts and would willingly suffer whatever consequences may come from that.

As retired senior citizens, there are things to be considered in prepping that younger people don’t need to consider to the same degree.  Living in the wilderness at a remote retreat simply isn’t as realistic an option for seniors no matter how tempting that choice may be.  Health care needs especially come into play and the effort it takes for relocation to such locales is almost beyond our emotional and physical abilities.  This was particularly complicated for us because after 40 years of married life, we had finally retired and moved to our retirement home in northern Colorado, near Fort Collins.  We had often joked that the next box out of our house had better have one of us in it!  So for us (and I believe for most senior citizens), prepping is a “bug in” proposition.

We have some things going for us in our location.  We live in a small town of about 3,000 people.  It is mostly a bedroom community for Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley, Colorado.  Additionally, we are not next to I-25 but about several miles east of that major thoroughfare.  We are about an hour north of Denver which is a cause for some concern, but are hopeful that most desperate refugees would turn west from I-25 toward Fort Collins rather than east toward the open prairies.  Our community is likely small enough to get organized, but I don’t see that happening until the proverbial stuff hits the fan and they are forced to do so.

The problem with a bedroom community is that it doesn’t really see itself as a community to any great degree so it will be necessary to try to identify some like-minded folks prior to the collapse to form a cadre of leadership with which to offer our community some guidance whenever things “go south”.  It will be a difficult place to defend as we sit out on the prairie with the usual mile section grids that come with that.  Additionally, while some natural water sources are present, most are connected to irrigation canals, reservoirs, and the like, while the municipal water supply is connected to a water tower which requires electricity to pump water into it.  Water is always a big issue when you live in the rain shadow of the Rockies.  Therefore, I have begun to store water in larger quantities in house and garage.

With respect to food preparation, I have convinced my wife that having a year’s supply of food is just a practical thing to do if there is any chance that things could get rough – the Social Security and pension checks could stop coming, and the panic following an economic collapse might quickly empty the grocery store shelves.  So I opted for a two-pronged approach.

1) First, there was the purchase of some long-term foods that stored essentially longer than I am likely to stay alive.  Here I examined the “Mormon Four”:  wheat, honey/sugar, dry milk, and salt.  These were basic staples that may not be all that tasty, would keep us alive and I wouldn’t need to worry about expiration dates except for the dry milk.  There are some local grain elevators near us who sell wheat in bulk, but the grain has not been thoroughly cleaned and my wife wasn’t very excited about that.  So the best source I could find for nice, clean wheat for the price was at  I am not a Mormon, but I do recognize that these folks likely know more about food storage than just about anyone out there.  So 600 lbs. of wheat was ordered (hard red, and hard white) and stored away for safekeeping.  Likewise, a hand grain mill was ordered.  It will give you a workout, but it nicely converts wheat to useable flour.  I purchased a Wonder Mill Jr., grain mill from, and it works just fine.  Additionally, quantities of salt, sugar/honey, and dry milk were purchased and stored in the usual white buckets, but since my wife can’t open the usual plastic lids on the buckets, I opted for splurging on some gamma lids that seal nicely, but unscrew for easy access.  Arthritis takes it’s toll!

2) The second prong of my food preps involved the purchasing of food items from Sam’s Club, and the local grocery stores with emphasis being given to acquiring a year’s supply of such goods and using them on a first purchased, first eaten rotational basis.  We built some storage closets in our basement, installed shelving, and stocked them full of goods paying attention, whenever possible, to finding items with extended expiration dates.

We have also planted three raised gardens in our back yard to produce as much produce on our own as we can and have purchased long-term, heritage seeds to keep for the future.

The next real life senior concern to be addressed was prescription drugs.  Both my wife and I are on cholesterol statin drugs, and blood pressure medication as are nearly every elderly couple I know.  What to do about that?  Here I want to carefully evaluate how seriously we need these medications and seek to acquire a surplus of them.  If possible I hope to convince my doctor to prescribe a year’s supply of these medications.  If he refuses, then it is my plan to see how much of the medications I can take and still not see a significant jump in either my cholesterol “score” or my blood pressure.  Perhaps I can take the meds every other day or every third day instead of daily and save the rest.  Failing to succeed in those efforts means that when things get serious and no further prescriptions can be obtained, then I will take whatever prescription medications I have and cut them in half.  Then I will take half of those cut in half, and cut them in half again.  The object is to wean myself off of them gradually rather than take them as prescribed and then stop cold turkey.  Blood pressure medications and cholesterol drugs are preventative meds, thus, it simply may become necessary to let things play out as they will if they become unavailable.

In addition to medications, the elderly need to consider establishing a circle of friends and/or family who live in close proximity.  Eventually, us old folks get so old that we just can’t get things done on our own.  I’ve walked through these things with my own parents so I know what I am speaking about first hand.  Aging is simply one of the most challenging aspects of life and there is no such thing as the “Golden Years”.  Death does not scare me nor does it frighten my wife.  We are Christian people (I am a retired Lutheran pastor), and we know exactly where we are headed when we die and frankly can’t wait to make the trip!  What doesn’t excite us is the process of dying.  If we end up in a situation in which the usual artificial supports (medications, hospitals, doctors, and such) are not available, we know that we will die sooner rather than later.  If that is the case, then so be it!  The cadre of family and/or friends nearby is simply what people have always done in the past to care for those who can’t care for themselves until they go home to be with the Lord.

Older people are not just a drag on others, however.  We have an array of skills, knowledge, and understanding of an age when electronics didn’t even exist, when we burned our own trash in the back yard, and by and large took care of ourselves and others without the government having much to say about it.  Those are precisely the skills that communities that are cooperating in surviving need to know.  Additionally, there is a difference between being older and being decrepit.  I am old, not decrepit.  I can work a full day, shoot straight, and think clearly.  Until the day comes when such things are no longer possible for me, then I can be a productive member of any survival community.

With preppers of every age, however, I hope and pray daily that all of this preparation isn’t needed.  However, I will continue to be ready just in case it is.


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Filed under Prepper articles, Survival Manual

Trash and Human Waste disposal

(Survival manual/4. Shelter issues/Trash and human waste disposal)

Unsanitation is coming and it may be closer than you think.
If you don’t properly dispose of your trash, within a couple weeks after SHTF, what you see here will be what you, your neighborhood and city will be faced with.
(Picture at left: A beautiful spring day in May 2008, Naples, Italy, one spot in one neighborhood, after 5 months without city garbage pick up – the city landfill was filled to capacity and closed.)

A.  City drowning in rubbish: 10,000 TONS of waste pile up on streets of Marseilles in chilling echo of British ‘winter of discontent’
26th October 2010, By Peter Allen.
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“Nearly 10,000 tons of rubbish has piled up in the streets of Marseilles as French strikes and blockades continued. All of the country’s 12 oil refineries remained closed today after nearly two weeks of industrial action which is costing the country up to £350 million a day.
During the disruption French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s opinion poll ratings have collapsed and he is now the least popular leader in the history of the Fifth Republic.
Demonstrators restored their blockade at France’s biggest refinery of Fos-sur-Mer, Marseilles, following last week’s clearing of their demonstration by CRS riot police.  ‘The refinery is back in our hands – the police are standing off,’ said a local trade union spokesman.
Around 70 ships including oil tankers are currently waiting at anchor off the coast of Marseille because militants will not let them dock and unload.
Up to a quarter of 12,500 fuel stations have run dry, with rationing introduced in area which are particularly popular with visitors from the UK, including Brittany and Normandy.
A Transport ministry spokeswoman said: ‘In the west of the country and in Paris more than a third of filling stations have been shut down – the situation is extremely serious.’
Nicolas Sarkozy scored a victory on Friday by getting his bill to make people work two more years for their pensions through the Senate, but striking refinery workers are putting a strain on businesses and daily life and show no sign of backing down…

Photographs above: Left: Marseille, France has been crippled by strikers. A fleet of huge ships  cruises offshore, unable to dock, their lights reflecting against the still  waters of the port at night. From the air it looks like a giant game of  Battleships.
Right: In the city centre, streets are still piled high with rubbish after the  refuse collectors joined dock workers, train drivers, students and airport staff who have brought the city almost to a standstill.

Photographs above: Scenes of New York City trash build up during and following an early  January 2011 winter storm. Sanitation becomes a problem immediately following even  a common, brief weather shut down. Imagine a situation that closed down  garbage and waste  removal for weeks – or months.

Meanwhile a resident in Philadelphia writes:
“You’ll be thrilled to know that I made it into work in less than 50 minutes this morning, and I didn’t need to drive ‘the 30 Blocks of Squalor’. But, I still needed to maneuver through West Philly
around the Zoo. I’m not quite sure but I believe Monday is trash day in West Philly based on the size of the garbage bags piled high in front of the ‘tenements’ and hovels. I was just happy there was no snow on the streets from the snowstorm one week ago. It seems that the new Phila snow removal program is
working wonders. Wait until the temperature goes up to 50 and the snow melts.
What struck me was how much trash and garbage was generated in such tiny row homes by people with a median household incomes of $21,000. The median value of houses in this war zone is $30,000. I’m mentally picturing the inside of these houses.
The question I have is what did these people use to purchase enough crap to generate this amount of garbage? These are the poorest of the poor in our nation and they are generating twice as much garbage as my family. In a three block stretch, there were more newer model $30,000 cars than there are in my entire upper middle class neighborhood. My driveway has an 11-year-old minivan and a 9-year-old CRV in it. What gives? They are not buying shit with wages, because 50% of the people in this neighborhood don’t work. The only thing I can think is a combination of government handouts, illegal activities, and credit cards…”

  BTrash disposal in an emergency situation
For urban dwellers: If everything is seriously messed up after the SHTF and major state functions fail like water, garbage, power, etc, then you may  need to take cover when going about business outdoors. Night disposal runs are best in two man teams. Foot travel to alternate trash dumping locations a few blocks away in the moonlight will be safer than day traffic. Avoid driving, save your fuel for more important events.
Compost all organic material, recycle all plastic, glass, metal, and wood to the best of your ability. The remaining refuse should be discarded as soon as you can to prevent disease / illness, also reduces odors.

 Incinerate the burnable rubbish, along with the plastics.
Organics get composted.  Burnables, we burn.  That probably sounds like heresy if you live in a city, and I confess I had to get used to it myself.  Hadn’t seen a burning barrel in years.  But yeah, burn’em.  Glass jars get re-used; they’re valuable.
That leaves tin cans, beer bottles and non-flammable  construction or demolition trash.  Haven’t found a self-sufficient answer for that one, so I haul it to the landfill.  If ever the day came when that was no longer practical, and I was generating that much trash, I’d contract with a neighbor who has a backhoe and make my own landfill.  I’d really hate to do that, though.
[Steel drums last about a year each, depending on how wet they become inside from rain and snow. Set the drum on a couple of concrete blocks to get it off the ground which will make the can last longer. In order to get the best combustion and the least amount of residual ash, make several dime size ventilation holes around the can’s lower periphery and up the sides. Use a steel chisel, drill or a few bullets more powerful than 22LR. Put a steel lid  on the can between burnings, to keep rain  or snow out of the ash. Wet ash accelerates rusting on the inside of the can. When the can is about 1-2 to 2/3 full it’s time to empty. If your moving the contents to another spot (and hopefully you are), have a wheel barrow handy to tote the can and contents. Dump the can upside down and bang the bottom to dislodge compacted materials then return the can to its ‘home’.

Compost to get rid of your bio-degradable materials 
Select an area for your compost pile or bin. Look for a spot that gets a lot of sunlight and has nearby access to water. Make sure the location is close to the house for convenience, but not so close that decaying organics can be smelled inside. [I had one 100 feet away for 30 years and never
smelled it, even while standing outdoors beside the house.-Mr. Larry]
Efficient decomposition requires nitrogen (kitchen scraps), carbon (yard waste), oxygen (air), and water. Collect kitchen and household scraps for the compost pile. Useful items include:
•  Fruit and vegetable scraps
•  Coffee grounds and tea leaves
•  Eggshells (rinsed of whites and yolks)
•  Shredded newspaper (not magazines)
•  Fireplace ashes
•  Sawdust

Do not compost meat, bones, fat, grease, dairy products, or pet waste. [I composted all the preceding except pet waste . The compost pile and garden loved me for it, but the larger bones don’t break down]
TIP: For more efficient composting, cut large scraps into smaller pieces.
TIP: Use a carbon-charcoal filter container to collect household scraps. The filter eliminates odors
[For many years, we used a 4-5 quart, covered, plastic ice cream pail to store our miscellaneous daily
household scraps and dumped the pail when it was full.-Mr. Larry].

  1. When the collection container is nearly full, empty the scraps to the compost bin or pile.
  2. Add a layer of leaves, grass clippings, and/or weeds from your yard. If not available, add straw.
  3. Moisten and mix the compost pile every few weeks. Water the pile, then use a pitchfork or shovel to turn the compost so that oxygen reaches all ingredients to encourage decomposition.

TIP: To make sure there is sufficient moisture, examine a clump of the material.  It should be damp, but not soggy and drippy.

  1. Adjust the proportion of compost ingredients by odor. The compost should have a good earthy smell. If the compost has an ammonia odor, add more carbon materials such as leaves and
    newspaper. If the compost smells foul, it is probably too wet and needs more dry materials such as leaves or straw.
  2. Allow the compost materials to decompose before use. It should feel crumbly, look dark, and smell earthy.
    The process typically takes a few months, depending on ingredients. Do not use compost before it’s ready—the decomposing ingredients can attract pests.
  3. In a SHTF scenario: Never put any trash near your house to avoid letting people know you
    have food. All trash which can be burned will be for fuel. Cans which cannot be reused will be crushed and buried away from the house. If water was not an issue, would wash them out to use for other purposes. If water was short they get thrown out to avoid attracting pests and guests.

This pair of compost bins were  made from 8 pallets, one pallet down the middle, and stripped boards off the 8th pallet to hold it all together. Throw kitchen scraps, some grass clippings, manure, little screened loam, leaves and other misc. “brown” material like small  twigs, rotting wood, etc. Then I leave it. Turn the compost probably 3 times next year, once in the spring, mid-summer and again next fall. Then use it in  Garden the following year. Pallets are awesome. They’re free and can be used
for all sorts of things.
[I used pressure treated rough sawn 1” x 8” pressure treated planks, they definitely looked nicer, but n a pinch the pallets would work.- Mr. Larry]

Build or purchase compost bins. A small fenced area with no bottom allows worms, soil bacteria, beetles and other beneficial organisms to work and aerate the compost. L>R: Steel post & chicken wire; circular, made with common wire fence; divided square bins made from wood slats and chicken wire.
[My bins looked similar to the wooden slat bin at right, except it was about 3 times larger and made from rough sawn pressure treated planks.


B.   Human waste disposal
Sanitation is a dirty subject that no one really wants to talk about.  But it is an often overlooked aspect of emergency preparedness.  When a disaster creates a situation where the water sources are compromised, the lack of sanitation in the given disaster area will be a disaster in itself.  A 50 mile radius of individuals could be affected by illness and disease.  Prepare appropriately for this aspect of disasters in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

 Add a Sanitation Kit to Disaster Supplies
Photo at right: A confined, rolling method of moving several dozen, sealed plastic trash  bags containing human waste to a remote site –  away from your shelter.

Having a sanitation kit that is ‘ready for use’ in times of disaster is essential to keeping your family and neighbors healthy.  These kits can fit comfortably into a bucket, are affordable, and will not take up much space.  Additionally, being educated on how to properly dispose of waste is a key factor in keeping everyone healthy during a disaster.

Some suggested sanitation supplies to add to any short or long-term emergency kits are:
•  Port-a-pottie, disposable 5-6 gallon paint bucket with lid, ‘luggable loo’ with seat
•  Toilet paper
•  Rubber gloves
•  Garbage bags with twist ties ( for liners of toilets or luggable loo)
•  Bathroom cleaner, Clorox, small bowl with water-disinfectant for washing hands where there
is no running water.
•  Cat Litter or absorbent material such as saw dust or dirt
•  Baby wipes, sanitary hand towels.
•  Baking soda can be used to help eliminate odors, lime
•  Vinegar
•  Shovel

Image at right is a Short term Family Toilet Sanitation Kit, containing: 1) Double Doodie toilet waste bags (or a medium-sized plastic bucket, 5-6 gallon, lined with a heavy-duty garbage bags); 2) toilet paper (for a family you’ll definitely want more than 4 rolls for anything longer than a few days business); 3) Basics Antibacterial bath wipes (or Handi-wipes, Wet Ones, etc); 4) small bottle Aqua Chem, port-a-pottie deodorant, or RV toilet deodorant; 5) toothbrush with paste. Determine quantities from your disaster preparedness scenario.

Additional ideas:
Have several buckets with lids to store stuff up while I wait to dump them. The lids are to help control smell. Human waste will be buried away from the house.
Keep a 80 lb bag of common industrial grade powdered lime on hand.

•  We evolved to live in small bands, and move on to a new location every week or so. The further you get from that lifestyle, you’re going to need fancier and fancier engineering. A trench latrine works for campers. Leave the TP roll on the shovel handle, and throw some dirt in the trench to cover your deposit, thanks.
•  Sharing a toilet seat means you get as sick as the sickest person that uses the same throne. It’s literally like dropping ‘trou’ and bumping butts with everyone else in your group, several times a day. Lysol is a must.
•  If you are in a suburb or city, first use the toilets you already have. You can take the lid off the water
closet and add more by hand. Use any water, like after a rain, or dishwater, whatever. Toilets don’t need electricity to flush, just water in the tank. Your public sewer lines might work for a week or two before they stop up. Use the time well!
•  After that, or where you don’t have the spare water, line a bucket with a heavy trash bag, and take the seat off of a toilet, and use that. Throw the full bag in a city trash can or dumpster. It will help with the smell, and if authority comes to clean up, that is where they will empty first. You can burn the dumpster or can if you get desperate.
•  If you compost with animal or human excrement, watch out for hookworm and ringworm, which can migrate and infect plants like tomato and corn via compost. This is also especially true of dysentery, the leading cause of death in Latin America. In Africa, blood flukes are a major health hazard from this, and from people working in irrigation ditches that are waste deep, then flowing onto fields.

Photos above: Left: Drain water from you home toilet and line bowl with plastic trash bags,  remove as
necessary. Center: 5-6 gallon portable toilet, used with trash bag liners. Right: Port-a-potti style toilet with minimal flush capability, deodorant in tank, empty every day or two.

Emergency Sanitation

The images above are common, modern camp gear – toilet/shower privacy enclosures. In a really bad situation, few things will provide your accustomed comfort as the personal privacy of an emergency bathroom’.

C.  Emergency Sanitation
27 July 2009,, by Kellene Bishop
 Sanitation is one of the ten critical components of emergency preparedness. It is usually one of the top two that are most overlooked. A lot of us take emergency sanitation for granted until our toilet breaks down or the sewer backs up. Keep in mind, if there is a quarantine, who’s going to maintain the proper working order of the sewage services? If there’s a financial collapse, how will we even have the wherewithal to send our waste somewhere else? If you don’t take emergency sanitation seriously, then the consequences can be extremely dire—even up to a 50 mile radius. Preventing waste from
contaminating the soil is just as important as preventing the spread of any other disease, as it contaminates crops, water, and air. Additionally, as water will be scarce in a time of emergency, ensuring that it does not get contaminated from improper sanitation habits is critical.

High amounts of hydrogen sulfide results from human waste. It not only smells horrible, but can also be very dangerous if a great deal of build-up occurs locally. Flies, rodents, and other unwelcome “guests” are attracted to the smell of fecal matter. Flies actually consume it.
Unfortunately, this also means that human waste is speedily spread to humans via flies and rodents to multiple locations and can subsequently effect an entire community with a sanitation disaster within 48 hours. Thus ensuring that your toilets are covered and you have the ability to break down the waste is critical in order to ensure the best health in a stressful circumstance.

Your first line of defense for emergency sanitation will still be the toilet in your own home—for a little while at least. You may only have enough time to build an alternative source, but you should at least have some time to implement these initial strategies. So long as you have water supply, flush conservatively.
When you aren’t able to flush any longer, plan on pouring water down the toilet to get rid of the waste. (Think how fast you’ll be using that water folks. Now do you start to see why I say a gallon per person, per day is the minimum amount you want to store? Although, keep in mind, you can use dish water, laundry water, or leftover cooking water for this purpose.) After you no longer have this option, plan on using the toilet as more of a “bucket.” Turn off all of the water to the toilet, and then plug it up with a tennis ball to ensure that no sewage comes through. Then line your toilet with a bio-degradable, compostable bag.
When you’ve exhausted the use of that bag, seal it, and then bury it so it will decompose properly.

In the eventual likelihood that you will have to move your “outhouse” outdoors, there are several additional considerations for emergency sanitation. Obviously, you want to keep it away from any food or water supply.
But you will want to be sure that you have chlorinated lime or bleach on hand to chemically and safely break down the waste matter. (Note: Powdered, chlorinated lime is available at building supply stores and it can be used dry. Be sure to get chlorinated lime and not quick lime, which is highly alkaline and corrosive.)

Every single time a person uses the toilet, some type of disinfectant should be sprinkled on top. It can be chlorinated lime, bleach, or even some other household disinfectants such as Pinesol, Lysol Cleaner, Arm & Hammer cleaners, plain baking soda, laundry detergent, etc.


D.  What To Do When the Sanitation Hits The Fan
22 December 2010,, by Tess Pennington
Excerpts pasted from:

Cathole considerations:
When choosing a site to bury waste:
•  Select a cathole site far from water sources, 200 feet (approximately 70 adult paces) is the recommended range.
•  Select an inconspicuous site untraveled by people.  Examples of cathole sites include thick undergrowth, near downed timber, or on gentle hillsides.
•  If camping with a group or if camping in the same place for more than one night, disperse the catholes over a wide area; don’t go to the same place twice.
•  Try to find a site with deep organic soil.  This organic material contains organisms which will help decompose the feces. (organic soil is usually dark and rich in color.)  Refer to the jars used to demonstrate decomposition.  The desert does not have as much organic soil as a forested area.
•  If possible, locate our cat hole where it will receive maximum sunlight.  The heat from
the sun will aid the decomposition.
•  Choose an elevated site where water would not normally runoff during rain storms.  The idea here is to keep the feces out of water. Overtime, the decomposing feces will percolate into the soil before
reaching water sources.

Disposal of Feminine Napkins
It is important to properly dispose of sanitary napkins, as they contain bodily fluid that could pose a health hazard to others. Methods of disposal may differ according to where you are and what you have available.  However, tampons and feminine napkins do not decompose quickly.  Therefore, the best way to dispose of used feminine napkins tampons is to burn them. The fire must be very hot in order to thoroughly destroy the used items.

Sanitation will require the same type of  supplies for a short-term as a long-term disaster, however, a more permanent structure needs to be in place for long-term use.

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Washing laundry (during an emergency)

(Survival manual/4. Shelter issues/Washing laundry)

Water and Wastewater quality
The effectiveness of your City’s Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants may be undermined during a high mortality pandemic or other local/regional disaster.
Current plans for antiviral and antibiotic use during a severe influenza pandemic could reduce wastewater treatment effectiveness prior to discharge into receiving rivers, resulting in deteriorating quality at drinking water abstraction points.
The research team concluded that, consistent with expectations, a mild pandemic (as in 2009) was projected to exhibit a negligible ecotoxicologic hazard. However in a moderate and severe pandemic nearly all Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants (80-100%) were projected to exceed the threshold for microbial growth inhibition, potentially reducing the capacity of the plant to treat water. In addition, a proportion (5-40%) of the River Thames was similarly projected to exceed key thresholds for environmental toxicity, resulting in potential contamination and eutrophication at drinking water abstraction points.


A.  How to do laundry by  hand, country-style,  #1
WordPress, Published May 5, 2009
“You can get a big tub and do your laundry by hand!” the Thai owners of my building announced happily when I asked them if there were any washing machines I could use, or some kind of laundry service.
Me: “Um….ok….um…how would I do that, exactly?”
I’ve washed one or two things out by hand in the sink, but any kind of large-scale laundry-washing endeavor has involved, WASHING MACHINES. But washing machines are actually rare here, especially the real, modern kind so hand-washing everything is pretty common.
Of course, any place poor enough for laundry machines to be a novelty probably has lots of people I could pay to do my laundry. However, I like doing chores myself. Also, while it’s easy to pay people to do stuff for you in Thailand, it can be quite hard to get things done the way you want — so in most cases it’s a lot simpler to do it yourself.

 Here’s how you wash laundry by hand:
1.  You need a big laundry tub, about 3 feet wide a laundry brush, and of course detergent. If you’re a princess like me, you need rubber gloves too. The giant tub is important, it really doesn’t work well to do a lot of laundry in your sink.
2.  Put water and detergent in the tub, then the laundry. Make sure everything is wet, then let it soak for 1/2 hour.
3.  Using the laundry brush, take each item of clothing and inspect it for stains, and give it a good scrub with the brush.
4.  Drain the water, and put in new, clean water.
5. Let stuff soak a little bit more.
6. Drain water, and twist out the water from each item. Once you have to twist out a towel or jeans, you will have a newfound appreciation for centrifugal force!
7. Hang each item on a hanger and put it out in the sun. In Thailand, where temperatures reach 104ºF, no one except hotels own dryers: it takes about an hour for clothes to dry in the afternoon sun.

B. Another way to wash by hand
1.  Heat the water in one of the tubs over a hot fire.
2.  Set the other two tubs up on blocks or a tree stump side by side
10-15 feet away from the fire.
3.  Make certain all tubs are secure.
4.  Fill one tub with boiling water, adding enough cold water to make it tolerable for your hands.
5.  Add a few white clothes to the wash water.
6.  Put the washboard in the tub and rub the surface with a bar of soap.
7.  Take a piece of laundry out of the water, lay it the length of and on top of the wash board. Rub soap on material.
8.  With the edge of the material held in your hand between thumb and fingers, begin to rub up and down the board with the heel of your hand, gathering and pulling the material toward you.
9.  Push the material down in the water and start from the beginning.
10.  Scrub each garment vigorously four to eight times.
11.  Dip into water, rinse, wring out water and put in next tub filled with warm rinse water.
12.  Rinse in second water, wring dry, and hang on clothesline.

C.  How to wash laundry by hand #3
If you are like me, you are always searching for ways to help the environment, get back to basics, and do things by hand. Well, washing your laundry by hand is a great way to start. This article can help you learn all of the different method you can use to wash your clothes by hand, and places to find the equipment you will need to get started.

Decide on how you are going to wash your clothes. Here are some of the way available.
You can use a simple basin and washboard. This method is cheap and effective. You simply apply the lye soap to the wet laundry, and scrub with a laundry brush against the washboard. You will probably need another basin with clean water to rinse your laundry.
Another option is to use a Rapid Washer. This is shaped like a plunger and used in about the same way. It really kicks out the dirt and grime.
If you really want to make a commitment to washing your clothes and laundry by hand, I would invest in a Lehman’s Hand Washer. It has a pivoting arm that really get the clothes clean, in only about 7 minutes per load! It is a more expensive option, but well worth it.
You will want to wring out your laundry before hanging it up to dry. This is a wringer, which can attach to your hand washer or to your basin. Simply wring the items of laundry through the wringer and it is ready to hang.
After your clothes are wrung out and ready to hang, you will want to put them up on a clothesline. You will also want to buy a lot of clothespins. String your line up between two trees, between your fence and your house, or on a free-standing unit.
Congratulations! You can now wash your clothes and laundry by hand!

D.  Laundry When the Wash Machine’s Out
This article will explain a couple of ways to do laundry when there is no wash machine handy. Why would we want to know this? There are several times in a survivalist’s life when he may find himself without a wash machine. The most common one would be while camping. We will look at this first.
I cannot claim to have discovered this technique, but I can tell you from experience that it works. I found it in one of “Ranger Rick” Tscherne’s Ranger Digests. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never packed more than one spare change of clothing in any backpack I’ve ever put up; whether it be for going to the field or as a BOB.  This is because I’ve always included two things that more than make up for the weight: a G.I. waterproof bag and a Ziploc full of laundry detergent. The waterproof bag has about two-dozen uses in the field, but in our case, we’re going to turn it into a hand-powered wash machine with agitating action.

1. Put one set of clothes-one shirt, one pair of trousers, a t-shirt, pair of socks and drawers-in the bag. To prolong the life of the bag, turn the pants inside out-if they’re BDUs, the metal take-up tabs on the sides will scratch the bag, and the buttons on blue jeans will do the same
2. Pour a quart (one canteen’s worth) of cold water into the bag, along with a mess-kit spoon’s worth of laundry soap. You can throw in a couple of SMOOTH river rocks if you have them, but this is not critical.
3. Close the bag up partway and squeeze most of the air out.
4. Finish closing the bag in the form of a “gooseneck” (instructions are printed on the side of the bag).
5. Squeeze, roll, mangle and toss the bag around for about five minutes. Really work the thing. You’ll hear it squish and squash. This is just what you want to happen.
6. Open the bag, wring out the clothes, pour in another quart of water, and repeat steps 1 through 5 until laundry is clean (may take two or three rinses).
7. Line-dry as you would normally. To get it to dry faster and avoid wrinkles, make sure your laundry is spread out as smoothly on the line as you can. I thread the line through the sleeves of BDU jackets and t-shirts; this seems to help.

Now suppose we’re at home, and there’s no power. Or, as was my case, suppose you find yourself “in between jobs” for a spell and really don’t want to waste money running the wash machine or going to the Laundromat? You still need clean clothes, as much from the standpoint of good morale as for hygiene’s sake (who wants to put on skuzzy old clothes after washing up?).

Anything you can throw in the wash machine can be hand washed. One of the best money-saving investments you can make is to go and buy an old-fashioned washboard and a drying rack. Washboards cost maybe $15.00 or so, last time I checked, and I bought a folding wood drying rack for about $5.00 at Wal-Mart. If you have a small, non-chain hardware store in your community, it’s a safe bet they’ll sell washboards. The Dollar Store may as well-you just might get lucky. Mine have paid for themselves many times over. If you have a large mop bucket, use it. Mop buckets use less water, and the washboard sits in there better than if you only use the bathtub.

Hand washing has one other advantage; namely, you can get really hard-to-clean clothes cleaner washing them by hand than any machine will do.
Start by “pre-treating” any really heavily soiled clothes. I work outdoors, and my blue jeans get filthy. No wash machine ever made has got the knees or the seam near the hems completely clean. Instead, I take a bristle brush and some cheap shampoo, dribble the latter on the problem area, and scrub the daylights out of it with the brush. They’ll fade more than in a washer, but that’s bound to happen anyway.
You can use the cheap shampoo trick right now, while you’re still using a wash machine. Just pre-treat stains and soils with some shampoo instead of the more expensive stuff, which is really only shampoo without the fragrance. It works wonders on grease and oils.

1.  To use a washboard, sit it in the bucket with about a gallon of water. Have a clean place to put clothes that have been washed-I use the bathtub. You can either use normal laundry soap or, if you really want to save money, use a bar of yellow Fels-Naptha brand soap. It’s a cake of soap that’s harder and slightly larger than normal bath soap bars. It costs around $2.00 or so and lasts for about seven or eight small loads of laundry.
2.  Take one piece of laundry, dunk it in the water, and lay it against the washboard. You don’t have to lay all of it against the washboard, just one part at a time. Rub the bar of soap against the clothing-it’ll be hard and will crumble a bit when it’s new or dry, but will be easier to work with after a while. Then just pretend you’re cleaning the washboard with the clothing. It’s a thing more easily done than described, but cleaning clothes like this is pretty intuitive, and you’ll get the hang of just how to do it in no time.
3.  You’ll also find that, after a while, the water gets pretty soapy, and that you may not need to rub the soap on the clothing at all. For clothes that aren’t soiled so much as “funky,” you may only need to squish them around in your hands for a while.
4.  After all your clothes have been washed, it’s time to rinse. This calls for a LOT of water, but the water doesn’t have to be drinkable, only clean. I’ve found that it usually takes two good rinsings to get the dirt and soap out. Wringing as much as possible out beforehand will save water.
Fill the bathtub with half of the water you intend to use (anywhere from three to six gallons is about right, depending on the size of the load). Swish and swirl the clothing around with your hands. You must make sure to get the soap out of the places you scrubbed it in, and this may take some elbow-grease. By the way, if you haven’t noticed, this is an awesome workout for the muscles of the hands, wrists and forearms!
5.  After you’re done rinsing, wring the clothes out and either line-dry them or hang them on a drying rack indoors. If you have a heat source, put the rack near it. An open window with a breeze wafting through will also help to dry things quicker. Remember again to lay things as flat as possible, or you’ll get wrinkles. Now it’s just a matter of time.

White bed linens, drawers and so forth should be bleached. What’s more, these articles can stand boiling water. Unless you have a huge cauldron on a wood-fire outside, you’ll just have to use the hottest water you can get. Linens and clothing used in caring for the sick should certainly be bleached and boiled if possible, but in any case bleached. Use household rubber gloves if you don’t want your hands looking and feeling like a concrete worker’s. If not directly soiled, whites can be swirled around in bleachy/soapy water in the tub with a wooden stick.

I’ve read one suggestion that has some merit to it, although I admit I’ve never tried it. A lady whom I hold in rather high regard made a sort of washer out of a 5-gallon bucket with lid, a plumber’s plunger and a ring washer similar to that used for protecting the wiring that goes through the firewall of a car. She bored a hole in the lid, fitted the washer through, and put the plunger inside. It looks like a butter churn would if they were made of plastic. As I said, I haven’t tried this, but there seems no reason why it shouldn’t work.

Woolens don’t necessarily need to be dry cleaned. Sweaters, blankets and such can be washed with Woolite, according to the instructions on the bottle. They should not be wrung or twisted, but rather laid flat and dried. It’ll take a good long while, but that’s what you pay to get wool’s other benefits.
One final tip. If you use Fels-Naptha soap, make sure to put it in a soap dish or something that’ll let it dry out. If you let it stay soggy, it’ll turn to mush and you’ll end up wasting most of it.
Washing things by hand is pretty simple, and it’s also really inexpensive. It also gets clothes cleaner than they would if you’d washed them in a machine. Trouble is, it’s awfully hard work. You can now see why people had so few clothes in the past.

eAudrey’s Luxuriant Soap and Crafts

 1.  Rendering Tallow
•   3-5 lbs. suet or other meat fat
•   water
•   2-4 Tbls. salt
•   sharp knife
•    large pot
•   long handled wooden spoon
•   safety goggles
•   rubber gloves
•   wood or stainless ladle
•   colander
•   primary mold

__1)  Cut or grind the suet into the smallest pieces possible. This will make it melt more easily.
__2)  Place ground suet into a pot. Make sure there is room for expansion as it heats.
__3)  Add 3 inches of water to pot. At this point, add the salt.
__4)  Set mixture over medium high heat and put on safety gear.
__5)  Stir mixture as it heats. Melt the suet into as much liquid as possible.
__6)  Allow a slow boil only. Mash the small pieces with the spoon. This could take up to two hours, depending on how much fat and how small the pieces.
__7)  Once the suet is liquefied, remove from heat. Pour or ladle it into a sieve or colander to remove any meat, sinew, or gristle. Mix the strained solids with peanut butter and put out for the birds.
__8)  Fill your primary mold with the strained mixture and refrigerate overnight.
__9)  Remove mold from fridge and turn upside down in the sink. Allow any extra water to drain away.
__10)  You now have a block of tallow. Refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to make a batch of basic soap.

2.  Basic Soap Instructions
__1)   Read directions for recipe to make sure you have the required ingredients and gear.
__2)  Use safety gloves and goggles or eyeglasses.
 __3)  Weigh the required amount of water (distilled is best) into one of the pitchers. To do this place an empty pitcher on the scale and set to zero. Now measure the amount of water.
__4)  Using the same method as above weigh the lye needed in the second pitcher.
__5)  Carefully pour the lye into the pitcher containing the water. You must avoid splashing-this is the most dangerous step! Never add the water to the lye.
__6)  Stir solution gently with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Make sure you have sufficient ventilation. Resist the temptation to lean over the pitcher to get a good look. You do not want to breathe anywhere near this container.
__7)  While the lye is cooling, melt the fats. The temperature of both must eventually be brought to 100 degrees simultaneously. If the lye solution cools too much, put the pitcher in a pan or bowl of hot water.
__8)  Double-check the temperatures of the lye and fat solutions to be sure they are 100-110 degrees (equal temperature is desired).
__9)  While stirring the fats, pour the lye solution into the melted fat/oil in a thin stream. Stir continuously to ensure the lye mixes into the fat.
__10)  Continue stirring in a carefully manner to avoid splashing. The mixture should start thickening. You will eventually see “trailings” or lines on the surface. This could take 20 minutes to an hour, usually closer to one hour. Be careful using hand mixers as they can speed things up too much.
 __11)  Pour this liquid soap into your large plastic container mold. Put the lid on and wrap with the towel.
__12)  Put the wrapped mold in a warm place and allow to set for 48 hours.
__13)  After 48 hours, unwrap the mold. The soap should still be warm. If the surface is still very soft leave lid off for a day. If soap looks abnormal refer to Troubleshooting or keyboard shortcut Alt-t. When it is as firm it is ready to be removed from the mold.
__14)  Remove soap from mold. To do this, first pull the plastic mold away from the soap on all sides. Then, turn the mold over onto the needle point screen or plastic. If it doesn’t fall out of the mold, push down on the upside down mold and it should pop out. You should have a nice clean block of soap ready to be cut into bars.
__15)  First, score the surface where the cuts will be made. Then, warm the knife to be used in water. Dry the knife and cut the block into bars of soap.
__16)  The hand cut bars still need to cure. They will become lighter in weight and slightly smaller. Place them on the plastic needlepoint screen for about three weeks.
Check your local hardware store – Depending on the regulations where you live, some hardware stores may sell 100% sodium hydroxide as a drain cleaner, or ‘Red Devil’ Lye drain cleaner.
Discontinued mfg., 1 lb, ~$11.00 inc S&H., 1 lb, $10.09 inc S&H., 2 lbs, $19.95 inc S&H.

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Washing dishes (during an emergency)

(Survival Manual/4. Shelter issues/Washing dishes)

A.  How to Wash Dishes in Cold Water
eHow, by Patricia Loofbourrow
We’re used to hot water, dishwashers and other modern conveniences. But what about when the power goes out? In many area of the Midwest, ice storms cause power outages, sometimes for weeks. Hurricanes in the south or earthquakes in the west can lead to power outages as well.
For those who live in all-electric homes, losing power for more than a few days leaves you with a stack of dirty, greasy dishes to deal with, and unless you’re ready to spend all day heating water, you’ll soon be asking “How do I wash dishes in cold water?”
Here’s how.
An additional benefit to using this method is that it uses minimal water, so if your water supply is low (for example, whatever the disaster is has disrupted water supplies as well) you won’t waste a lot of water on washing dishes.
Be prepared!

Instructions: things you’ll need:
__•  water
__•  dish soap or bar soap
__•  sponge or dishrag
__•  a dish pan
__•  dish drainer (you can also use the rack on your dishwasher for a drainer if need be)

1.  Place dishes in the empty dish pan.
2.  Stacking the dishes neatly in the dish pan will help you get as many in as you can. Keep sharp items (like sharp knives) out of the dishpan; place these on the counter and wash them separately.
3.  Place a small amount of dish soap on the sponge or dishrag (between a dime and a nickel sized spot). If using bar soap, rub the damp bar with the sponge or dishrag a couple of times.
4.  Pick out silverware and scrub them with the sponge or dishrag one at a time until they are clean (no grease or stuck-on food), laying them on the counter with soap still on them. When you have a good handful of silverware (or you have cleaned all of them), pick up the entire bunch and rinse them under a slow stream of water over the dish pan so the soapy water falls into the dish pan.
5.  When you have rinsed all the soap off the silverware, turn the water off and place the silverware into your dish drainer.
6.  Take the bottom plate from the stack of plates in the dish pan and soap it until it is clean.
7.  Turn on a slow stream of water and rinse the plate, then turn off the water and put the plate in the dish drainer. Repeat step 7 for each plate in the dish pan until either all the plates are clean or the dish pan is full of water.
8.  You may notice that the dishes are easier to clean as you go along, because the soapy water soaks off any stuck-on food as the plates sit in it.
9.   This is called greywater, and is still useful if you need it.
10.  When the dish pan is full of water, take out any remaining plates and put them to the side. Dump the dish pan water into your garden, use to flush your toilet, pour it onto your compost bin, or pour down the sink if there is nowhere you need the water.
Note: Use the next method if hot to b oiling water is available.


B.  Washing Dishes in a Camp/Emergency situation. Hot water available.
Most campers are environmentally conscious and prefer to stick with reusable rather than disposable kitchen items but give in to the throwaways because washing dishes while camping seems like such a daunting or impossible task.
So here is the easy step-by-step camping dishwashing process that we faithfully use to wash dishes when we are camping. We use this method on both our family camping trips as well as our scouting trips where everyone brings a mess kit and there are no throwaway plates, cups, or utensils used.

What Equipment Do You Need?
When setting up our camping dishwashing station, first we start with the equipment list. We keep all of things packed in our kitchen box…except for the water, the dirty dishes, and the human of course!
__•  Paper Towels
__•  Your Favorite Dish soap
__•  A Dishcloth/Sponge & Scrubby
__•  Tongs
__•  Three Dish pans
__•  Hot Water
__•  Cool Water
__•  A splash of bleach or sanitizing tablets (optional)
__•  Dirty Dishes

Step 1:  Heat The Water
Immediately after dinner is ready, we put two or three pots of water to boil on the stove while we are eating. Actually, we put two…and then do the third one afterwards because that is what works for us with the equipment we have. One pot will be in the largest cooking pot we have, for the other we use our coffeepot.

Step 2: Wipe The Plates
After dinner…and this is the only place we use disposable paper good item…everyone takes a paper towel and wipes their plate and silverware clean of any food particles. This can be done with one paper towel and it is an important step to help to keep the food particles out of the washtub. We put the paper towels in the fire ring to be burned later during our campfire.

Step 3: Set Up The Wash Tubs
Now it is time to get the three tubs out. You can work from left to right, or right to left, whichever works best for you.
I will call them A, B, and C to make it easy to follow along with the directions. I usually fill the tubs only halfway or a little more…not to the top.
These are just cheap ordinary rectangular dish tubs you can get at Wal-Mart. They easily nest inside each other and you can put a bunch of your kitchen stuff inside the top one for storage.

Step 4: Prepare the tubs
•  Tub A is for washing. We put a few squirts of dish soap in here, then fill the tub halfway with regular water. You should be using an environmentally safe, biodegradable soap such as Campsuds or one of the Dr. Bronner’s natural soaps. When the hot water is ready, we add some to warm this tub up. This is a personal preference. I like the water to be warm when I am washing the dishes while my husband likes cool water (which feels yucky to me!).
•  Tub B is the rinsing tub and gets just plain water in it. We fill the tub 1/3 of the way with cool water, and the rest (about 2/3) with hot water.
•  Tub C is for sterilization. This is a very important part of your camping dishwashing station…don’t skip it!!! Some people like to use sterilization tablets, some put a few drops of bleach in the tub (health safety standards recommend 1 teaspoon of bleach for every 2 gallons of water)…but we use only pure boiling hot water. This is extremely hot and you will need tongs to pull the dishes out of this tub.

Step 5: The Washing Process
•  Using a paper towel, thoroughly wipe any food residue off of the plates. You want as little food as possible to be in the tub when washing. One paper towel is good for wiping several plates.
•  Start with the cleanest dishes first, leaving the dirtiest dishes, usually the pots and pans and mixing bowls, for last.
•  The first dishes to be washed will be placed in Tub A with the soapy water and dishcloth or sponge, just like you do in a sink.
•  After washing, the dishes come out of Tub A and into Tub B where you agitate a little to rinse off the soap.
•  Now the dishes get moved from Tub B, the rinsing tub, to Tub C, sterilization. Be careful when you put the dishes in so you don’t splash the hot water on yourself!
•  Let the dishes sit a few minutes in the boiling water (Tub C) while you go back to Tub A and wash some more dirty dishes….put these washed dishes in Tub B to rinse, and while they are in there, with the tongs take the clean, sterilized dishes out of Tub C.
•  Spread some paper towels, or use a portable dish drainer if you like, and let them drip dry upside down (we do spread out paper towels for this which we reuse all weekend)

And that is it! Now in writing this, it sounds like a complicated procedure, partly because I really broke down the steps into baby steps to make sure I was explaining it well. But really, camping dishwashing is very simple and easy to do. Your dishes are done in no time at all…and with a lot less water than you use at home!

6.  Dumping The Water
Now it is time to clean up the camping dishwashing area! The method that we use to dispose of the dishwater also sounds a little complicated….but it is not at all…and it is done this way to wash out and clean up your dish tubs without using any more water than you already used for the dishes!
•  First dump out the water in Tub A. This was the washing water with the soap…and will be the dirtiest of the three tubs (See the ‘minimal impact’ method of dumping your water, discussed in the next section.)
•  Now…dump the rinse water from Tub B into the empty Tub A (this gives Tub A a rinse with cleaner water that you already have).
•  Now…dump the boiling water (it won’t be boiling hot anymore) from Tub C into Tub B. So now Tub C is empty and clean and you are done with it. Turn it upside down with your other clean dishes to dry.
•  So now you have water in only Tub A and Tub B. Go ahead and dump the water from Tub A again.
•  Now pour the hot water from Tub B into Tub A so Tub B is clean and empty, and Tub A is getting its final rinse with the batch of hot rinse water. Put Tub B upside down with the clean dishes to dry.
•  Finally, dispose of the water in Tub A and turn it over to dry…and you are done! And your dishes are done too!

This is the method I learned 12 years ago when I was a Cub Scout mom and leader….and we have used it on every family campout and Boy Scout training and troop campout I have been on. We always set up a three-tub camping dishwashing station…and the dishes come out clean and, most importantly, sanitary.


C.  Some Rules For Your Camp/Emergency Dishwashing Station
As campers we love nature and its beauty and try to do the best we can to promote Leave No Trace camping, or camping that does as little damage as possible to the environment.
There are many debates as to whether soapy camping dishwashing, is more harmful to the environment than using paper and plastic disposables.
All of the research I have done points to camping dishwashing with reusable plates, pots, silverware, and cups, as being the preferred method…but here are some important steps you should take when washing your dishes at your campsite to make sure you protect the area so many can enjoy it in the future as well.
__•  If possible, use small quantities of biodegradable soap.
__•  Make sure you wash and dispose of the waste water at least 100 feet from any water source. Never pour it into a river or lake, or any water source as this will contaminate the water!
__•  If possible, dig a small hole to pour the water into, to allow the ground to filter the water and return it back to the water source in its own natural way. If you can’t dig a hole, spread it over the ground to encourage natural filtration.

During campouts, I have seen people washing their dishes/pots/pans under a running spigot on their site. This is not an acceptable practice of camping dishwashing for several reasons. First, the running water is a huge waste of excess water! Second, the water is not being dispersed of properly to encourage natural filtration.
Using the ‘three-pan method’ for camping dishwashing takes a few extra steps than using a running spigot, but it is proper camping technique, sanitary for the environment…and for you, your family, and our dishes!

D.  How to Use Clorox Bleach in Water Treatments
November 19, 2010,, by Cricket Webber
In an emergency, purified water is essential.
The most thorough way to purify water is to boil it, but in an emergency this is not always possible. If you have no way to boil contaminated water, you can use Clorox bleach instead. Bleach is an inexpensive and highly effective disinfectant. You can use bleach to clean all sorts of surfaces, and it is used to keep laundry disinfected and clean. Common household bleach breaks down to salt and water after it has performed its disinfecting task. Never drink undiluted bleach, but you can use it to safely purify water in an emergency situation. The purified water can be used for drinking, cooking or washing dishes.
1.  Pour the water you want to purify into a clean container. If the water has a cloudy appearance, filter it before adding it to the clean container. Use a coffee filter or a paper towel to filter particles out of the water.
2.  Add Clorox bleach to the water with an eyedropper. To purify 1 qt. of water, add 3 drops of bleach. For 1/2 gallon of water, add 5 drops of bleach, and for 1 gallon of water, add 1/8 tsp. of bleach. If the water is cloudy or cold, increase the amount of bleach to 5 drops for 1 qt., 10 drops for 1/2 gallon, and 1/4 tsp. for 1 gallon.
3.  Dish rinsing:  a) If using hot water to rinse to disinfect dishes and utensils, add 1/8 tsp bleach per gallon water. b) If using a cold water rinse, add  ¼ tsp bleach per gallon water.
Mix the bleach thoroughly into the water.
4.  Let the bleach and water sit for at least 30 minutes before you use it. If the water is cold or cloudy, allow the water to sit for at least 60 minutes. The purified water should smell faintly of bleach when the reaction is complete.

E.  How to Prevent Food Borne Illness by Cleaning Your Kitchen, by Amanda C. Strosahl<>
[I have adapted this article to the emergency kitchen-Mr Larry]

More than 200 known diseases are transmitted through food. In the United States alone, an estimated 6 million to 81 million illnesses and up 9,000 deaths are caused by food borne diseases each year.
Keeping your emergency kitchen clean is a simple, yet effective way, of preventing food borne illness. Here are some easy steps you can take to make your kitchen a safe area.
1. It is easier to clean an emergency kitchen or camp table work  surface when you do not have to fight your way through it. Store pots/pans and dining accessories in cupboards, cabinets or boxes.  Keeping the extra surfaces to a minimum will provide less breeding ground for bacteria.
2. Clean out your refrigerator-ice chest on a regular basis. Discard any food that shows signs of spoilage. Wipe down the shelves and door using warm, soapy water or cleaning spray. It is safe to use dish detergent in your water when cleaning your refrigerator, but avoid using a variety that has a strong fragrance.
3. Clean up any spills on your stove top each time you cook. Use warm, soapy water or a kitchen cleaner. If you have used a camp oven, wipe the surfaces and racks after the interior has cooled. It is easier to remove drips and grease from the oven as they happen.
4. The work surfaces are the most dangerous areas in the emergency kitchen. Food, utensils and hands come directly in contact with these surfaces several times per day. Wipe down the work areas of your countertops or work top table before and after using them. Use hot, soapy water or a kitchen cleaning spray. Remove everything from the work surfaces and wash the entire surface once per week. An effective sanitizing solution for thoroughly cleaning the kitchen counters is to mix one capful of bleach into a quart of warm water. Allow the counters to air dry.
5. Wash dishes as soon as you can after using them. Do not let dirty dishes sit out on the counter. Bacteria and mold grows quickly on dirty dishes, especially in warm temperatures. Dirty dishes attract flies and other insects, as well as rodents. Wash dishes by hand using the procedures discussed above each time you prepare a meal.
6. Change your dish towel and dish washcloth daily. Bacteria can survive for weeks in a wet dishcloth or sponge. It is important to change your dishcloth, dishtowels and sponges on a daily basis. Use one dishcloth or sponge for cleaning the counters and another for washing the dishes. Use disposable paper towels when cleaning up spilled fluids from raw meat. If you plan to use a single dishcloth throughout the day, let it soak in a little water that has had a couple drops of bleach added to it between uses.

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Filed under Survival Manual, __4. Shelter Issues

Valuable skills

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Valuable skills)

A. 7 Reasons Learning Grooming Skills Should Be Part of Your Preps: Haircuts and Dog Grooming
24 June 2013,, General Prepping
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skill barber

Learning how to cut hair and groom dogs might become a necessary skill to have if the S ever does HTF, and it might prove to be lucrative to boot. As you might have guessed from my writing, the general look of things around my blog, and my attitude, I’m not a very high maintenance kinda girl. Sure, I’ve had my hair and nails done before but only on very special occasions. Normally, I might have my hair cut once a year. This past year I cut my hair super short and went back to my natural hair color which is now salt and pepper. (Yes, I did color my hair for many years but I did that myself too.) My point in telling you all this is that over the years I’ve become almost completely self-sufficient when it comes to my grooming and my families grooming.  My self-sufficiency didn’t stop at my ability to groom my husband and children – I also learned to groom my dogs. Here are some of the reasons I decided it was in my best interest to learn these skills.

1. You Save  Time and  Money: This was my number one motivator to learn grooming skills. I learned how to cut my children’s hair when my oldest was about three because it was a lot of money to have his hair cut once a month. Well, maybe it wasn’t too much for just him but my husband already went to the barber once a month, and now my three year old needed his hair cut, plus I had a younger baby that would need his hair cut soon enough. I saw that the cost was going to add up fast. (This was before I even gave birth to my third son). So I bought clippers and a book and learned. My husband always joked that the boys were too young to care how they looked so if I messed up it wasn’t that big of a deal. By cutting my husband’s and boys’ hair I save about $720 a year. I was cutting hair long before we acquired dogs so the leap from grooming humans to animals was not too hard. I have a standard poodle and a wire fox terrier – two breeds that need to be groomed. (We cannot have a dog that sheds because two of my children have asthma.) By grooming the dogs I save about $640 dollars a year. Even if you don’t have a dog that requires grooming, if you live in a hot climate many people often shave their dog’s fur (especially long-haired varieties and even some short-haired varieties if they start shedding a lot) to make them more comfortable.

skill haircut1As you can tell from the age difference of my son in these photos I’ve been cutting his hair for years.

skill haircut2Here is the after picture of the most recent photo above.

2. Grooming is Part of Proper Hygiene:  If  the S does HTF hygiene will be more important than ever. Without running water and other conveniences it will become increasingly difficult to maintain proper hygiene. Hygiene is often overlooked in prepping because most of us have never been without it for an extended amount of time (like months…) and we often figure it will be the least of our worries. Learning how to tend to your families grooming needs could mean you don’ t have to deal with pests like lice and fleas and all the diseases they bring with them. Learning proper grooming could help your family stay healthy when doctors are scarce. If you are already in the practice of grooming everyone in your family all you’ll have to worry about is making the jump to doing it off-grid without electric clippers. If you do a little scissor work each time you groom this transition won’t be a big deal.

3. You Can Avoid Unwanted Stress: If you already know how to groom everyone in your family you won’t have to try and learn how if there is a collapse. You’ll be used to doing this chore and with a few minor adjustments it won’t seem much different than doing it under normal circumstances. After all, you’ll probably have other problems to deal with. Learning how to cut hair or groom your dogs should not be one of them. It also helps younger children (and animals) to have continuity:  ”mom has always cut my hair so it’s no different than normal”.

4. You’ll Have the Right Equipment and Know How to Use it in a Collapse: It’s one thing to buy clippers or scissors for cutting hair, and it’s quite another to actually use them. There is really no way to know if you have the proper equipment for cutting hair unless you are currently in the practice of grooming. Many home hair cutting kits don’t even come with scissors anymore, they just come with electric clippers. I learned how to cut hair with clippers, then I learned how to cut hair with scissors – it’s a process. If you start learning how to groom now you will be able to “think through” how you’ll handle things in an off-grid situation and know what equipment you’ll need.

skill fur trimHere is a before and middle picture of my big pup (she’s not quite done there on the bottom). It takes me about four hours from start to finish and I groom her about four to five times a year.

5. You’re Often Better Than a Professional:  Often times if you know how to cut your child’s hair you will be able to do it better than a professional. After all you know his hair type. You know if it’s thin or thick or if he has one cowlick or two (one of my sons has two). You know how his hair is “trained” to lie on his head. I tried to save money once by taking my children to one of those salon colleges where they let the cosmetology students cut hair for practice (as a result the price is super cheap). Big mistake! Also, on the few occasions that I’ve had my poodle groomed the professional grooming her did not clean her ears correctly. (Note: different breeds of dogs have different grooming needs. So before you begin to groom your pet please research your pet’s breed so you will be aware of any special issues unique to their breed.)

skill haircut3I can cut around ears pretty well now but that wasn’t always the case. Never forget it does not have to be perfect!

6.  If You’re Good Enough You Might Be Able to Offer Your Services For Barter: If there is a collapse and you have this skill you might be able to use it to barter with and obtain much needed supplies for your family. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be prepped with everything they need no matter how hard they try. So knowing a skill that not everyone knows might come in handy one day.  (Note: it is currently illegal in most places to cut hair or groom animals for profit without a licence. So when I say barter I mean after the SHTF and these laws may no longer apply)

7. Grooming is a Chance to Examine Your Child or Dog: Most mother’s examine their children when they bathe them but there is that time around 10 years old when kids are learning hygiene that a mom might do a thorough examine every day. If you cut your child’s hair you can examine them for any abnormalities. This is especially helpful when it comes to grooming animals. If you groom your animals you can be on the lookout for everything from parasites to cancerous moles. By doing it yourself you can keep a record of any problems and keep an eye on any potential problems. Professionals are supposed to be on the lookout as well but most grooming boutiques have multiple employees and if you are lucky enough to get the same groomer each time they might not remember your animal after examining tons of others.

If you are looking to start grooming either your children or your dogs I recommend doing a search on YouTube where you will find many videos that will help you feel less intimidated. I also recommend a book called Scissors and Comb Haircutting as a good reference for learning how to cut hair. You can buy a Wal-Mart hair cutting starter kit when you decide to start learning (I certainly did), however, I learned very quickly that you get what you pay for. In addition, having cheap tools makes it harder to learn and harder on the family in general (you’re more likely to nick their skin).  My hair cutting tools are made by WAHL.  Here is the latest model of what I own.  The same goes with dog grooming tools. I actually upgraded my human tools and then used my Wal-Mart special on the dogs for a time. Again, big mistake and really I have to say buying the right tool for the job matters even more with animals. It just made such a huge difference in the ease of grooming them. Here is the clipper I have for my dogs. This clipper requires a blade.  I use a number 10 blade for my poodles face and paws, then I use it to cut all of my wire fox terrier’s coat, this is the shortest cutting blade and basically shaves the dog. To leave a short coat on my poodle I use a number 7 blade  in the summer and a number 4 blade for her in the winter. Be sure to always buy ceramic blades – they will last a lot longer. You will also need a good pair of scissors but I recommend not buying those through mail order so you can get a pair that fits your hand. You can buy them at a beauty salon supply store such as Sally’s.


B.  5 Uncommon Skills That Will Be Useful After the SHTF
2 July 2013,, by Gaye Levy
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I believe that community will be important in a post-SHTF society.

It is also my belief that each member of a community will need to contribute in one way or another to the group as a whole.  It is easy to think of those contributions as something physical that you can touch and feel such as food, medical supplies, fuel,  firearms, ammunition and cash. The problem, of course, is that depending on economic circumstances and logistics, even experienced preppers may have very little extra in the way of tangible assets to contribute to the community as a whole.

Today I would like to move beyond the need for Prepper’s to have physical and monetary assets .  Instead, I would like to suggest five uncommon skills that will be needed by every post-SHTF community.  These are skills that do not take a lot of money to learn and yet they will be extremely valuable and in high demand if the SHTF.  These are skills you may not have thought about, but important skills none-the less.

 1.  Sewing
Anyone who was a child during the Great Depression will know that new clothes were a luxury afforded by very few.  Clothes were worn until they were literally thread bare and even then, they were patched and mended, usually by hand. In those days, one of the very first domestic skills learned by a young skill seamstresschild was how to sew on a button.  After that, they were taught ironing, hemming, and darning.  Common opinion was that darned socks were lumpy, but they were better than no socks at all and lumpy or not, they kept your feet warm.

These domestic skills were not limited to just the girls.  As the Survival Husband will attest, little boys were also taught to sew, iron, hem and darn.

In a world where new clothes and even bolts of fabric are precious, if available at all, sewing skills will be needed to create new garments out of old.  Such things as sanitary pads for the ladies will need to be fashioned out of discarded pieces of cloth and even washable TP from old rags may be needed.  But most of all, clothes will need to be repurposed and made usable again.  And for that, someone with sewing skills will be invaluable to the community.

2.  Barbering and Hair Cutting
How often do you get your hair cut?  Once a month? Every two months?  When there is no salon around the corner or worse, no money for a salon, the next best thing is a good set of shears and someone with a modicum of hair cutting knowledge.

At the risk of sounding frivolous, no matter how bad things get, I know that I am going to feel better if I am well groomed and look nice. I am not talking about a fancy hairdo and salon highlights (which, by the way, I do not have).  I am talking about a nicely trimmed hairstyle, nothing fancy, that keeps hair out of my eyes and is short enough to wash and keep clean using only a modest amount of water.  The same applies to men although for many, a shaved head will be a viable option.

To get started in home barbering and haircutting, you need some barber shears and a trimmer.  I happen to use a Wahl Peanut that also does double duty for dog grooming.  A portable trimmer will run off of solar power so the lack of electricity should  not be a problem although there are plenty of battery operated models to choose from as well.

The other thing you need are some warm bodies that will let you practice on them. Note that I am not suggesting that you set up shop; States have strict licensing requirements when it comes to cutting hair and barbering.  What I am suggesting, however, is that you acquire some basic skills practicing on family and friends so that when the time comes, you can perform basic hair cutting for other members of your survival community.

skill SHTF bake3.  Cooking and Baking for a Crowd
When the pioneers traveled across the country in their wagon trains, certain individuals were designated “Cookies”.  These individuals were responsible for cobbling together family style meals from whatever provisions happened to be available.

Cooks, or “Cookies” will also be sought after in a post SHTF community.  The reason for this may be not be obvious but in truth, there will be so many chores to do that for the sake of efficiency,  it will be useful to have a central kitchen, where communal meals are prepared, perhaps even outdoors over an open fire.

People need to eat and anyone who has the skill to cook and especially to bake for a crowd will find a welcome place in the survival community.

4.  Teaching
Young people are going to need to learn the basics of reading, writing, and science.  As I wrote in Education After the Collapse – A Journey Back to Little House on the Prairie, the schoolhouse of old was likely the kitchen table, with Mom and Dad pitching in to teach their children the basics.

In a post SHTF society, there will not be traditional schools to educate children.  Instead, children and their parents will be on their own unless someone is willing to step up and teach them not only the basics, but also how to solve problems and how to think critically when solving problems.

What will it take to teach?  Some textbooks, paper, writing materials and flash cards will be good to have but even more important, is a willingness to share knowledge and to exhibit patience when dealing with children who have been displaced or may be confused by the scary world changes taking place around them.

5.  Entertaining
This last skill is something I have rarely, if ever, seen mentioned in prepping circles.  In a world where there are no movies, no TV, no video games and no mall, staying pleasantly occupied during leisure periods will be a challenge.  The risk, if there is no entertainment, is that you will either work yourself to death because you are bored or you will become depressed due to the lack of imaginative stimulation.

Entertaining  in a post SHTF world may include singing or playing the harmonica, guitar or accordion.  It might also include teaching a group to dance, play charades or even to play a rousing round of canasta.  Knowing how to entertain others and bring a bit of fun into their lives is a special trait that can be honed now and put into use over and over again, regardless of how bad things get.

Let’s face it. In a post-SHTF society, there are going to be the haves and the have-not’s.  As a matter of fact, one of the fears that many of us have is that someone will come knocking on the door empty-handed and will ask or even demand to join your community of preppers.  This could be a family member or neighbor or even a stranger who has done little if anything to prepare in spite of the many warning signs.

Although you may have some charitable handouts at the ready, inviting someone to be accepted into your home or community is going to require some tough scrutiny.  Part of that scrutiny will be to evaluate whether they have a useful and needed skill to bring into the mix.  And by useful skill, I mean a skill that will enhance the lives and lessen the burden of the others that are already there.  The five skills I have outlined today are the types of skills that will be sought after in such a situation.

My recommendation is that even if you do not think you will need them, it is a good idea to become proficient at one or more of these skills now. After all, if you need to bug out with simply your bug-out-bag and the clothes on your back, you may be the one knocking on a stranger’s door with nothing but your  skills to offer.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Filed under Prepper articles, Survival Manual

Personal documents

(Manual/ Prepper Articles/ Personal documents)

AHow to Create an In-Case-of-Emergency Everything Document to Keep Your Loved Ones Informed if Worst Comes to Worst
30 June 2011,, by Melanie Pinola
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pdocs how toIf you were hit by a bus today or were otherwise incapacitated, would your loved ones be able to quickly locate your important information or know how to handle your affairs? Many of us have a great handle on our finances, but our record keeping systems might not be obvious to family members or friends who might need immediate access to them in times of emergency. Here’s a step-by-step guide to organizing your vital information so it can be conveniently and safely accessed when needed.

The Goal: A Master Document or Folder with All Your Important Information
Perhaps the easiest method for creating a centralized document or set of files would be creating a Google Spreadsheet that you could share with your family and friends and keep updated regularly. We’ve created a basic Master Information Kit template just for this purpose, see above and copy from:
pdocs info kit

[Master Information Kit template]

The spreadsheet includes prompts for the information below, but you can customize it for your particular needs. To use the template for yourself, in Google Docs go to File > Make a copy… to save it to your Google account (make sure your version of the document’s sharing settings go back to the default “Private”).

Update: Due to high traffic to the template, Google Docs is only showing it in list view, making it impossible to copy. This zipped file has downloadable versions in PDF, XLS, and ODS formats. You can still import these into your Google Docs account.

There are really only a few steps to setting this organizer up: gathering your records, securely sharing them, and keeping them updated. Follow along and you’ll have your kit set up in no time—and a little extra peace of mind.

Step 1: Gather Your Vital Records to Keep in the Master Information Kit
The most important personal records:
First, there are a few documents that you obviously should keep in a secured location (a fire safe or safe deposit box):

  • Social Security card
  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Any other official, hard-to-replace documents
  • Scan these items so you can have a digital record of them as well. If you encrypt the digital files, e.g., with one of our favorite encryption tools TrueCrypt, and you can even upload them to Google Docs and share the files with your loved ones (make a note of them in the spreadsheet). See encryption file discussion at:

You’ll also want to add to your emergency records kit:

  • Contact information: Both your contact information and your emergency contacts’ info. This includes your nearest relatives, your will executor(s), and employers.
  • Will and medical directives: Add a copy of your will/living trust and medical letter of instructions (keep the originals with your legal representative). You can upload a PDF file to Google Docs for this purpose.
  • Insurance: Homeowners, auto, medical, life, disability, and other insurance agents/brokers contact info and policy numbers
  • Financial accounts: Bank, investment, and credit card/loan accounts information, including institution names, phone numbers, and account numbers
  • Health records: Immunization records, allergies, dietary restrictions, medications, medical/surgical treatments
  • Pet information: Description of each pet, vet contact information, and any important medical notes
  • Property: Car information, home purchase papers/deeds, and other home inventory items.

Again, adjust for your relevant information. Our Master Information  Kit spreadsheet includes individual sheets for most of these pieces of information, so just make a copy of the sheet (File > Make a Copy) and start filling it out, in section at a time.

Step 2: Export Your Accounts Information
Account Passwords
: For login information to important accounts, it’s best not to store your logins in an online document like this. Instead you can export your logins from password managers like Keepass, LastPass, or 1Password to a CSV file and then encrypt it so it can be shared securely. Our spreadsheet template includes a sheet specifically for describing your method of storing these files—the location of your vital documents, and any passwords needed to locate them.

Step 3: Share Your Master Information Kit and Vital Documents
The Google Docs spreadsheet is easy to share. Once you’ve filled out your version of the spreadsheet, click on the Share button and you can email people who you want to be able to view or edit the document. (Think people who you’d also consider emergency contacts.)

For your encrypted files, like the logins mentioned above, you could upload them in Google Docs, store on an encrypted USB thumb drive, or use something like Dropbox. Give the recipients your encryption password but for security reasons, only let them write down a hint to the password. E.g., vacation spot 2010 + pet bday + myfavoritesinger’smiddlename. Also, if you use Dropbox, make sure you encrypt sensitive information first. An encrypted zip file seems an ideal solution.

Step 4. Regularly Update Your Everything Document
You’ll need to update your files/master records book when you update your accounts.
Like setting up an emergency plan or a 72-hour emergency kit, this master information kit will need to be reevaluated regularly—consider doing so at least yearly (e.g., at tax time, when you’re already looking at all your accounts) or, better yet, quarterly.

Set up a reminder on your calendar so you won’t forget. When you get your reminder, don’t wait—just quickly look over the items in your document and if anything has changed, update it. If not, you’ve only lost a couple of minutes of your day toward a very good end.

More Resources for Creating a Master Information Kit
If you’re a Quicken user, for example, you may have access to Emergency Records Organizer built into the program, which can compile your emergency documents for you, based on the info you put in Quicken. It should be in the “Property & Debt” menu or you might find the program under your Quicken folder under Program Files.

Erik Dewey’s free Big Book of Everything is a very thorough organizer for all your affairs, with placeholders for you to record your bank accounts, insurance policies, tax records, and more. The 44-page Big Book of Everything is available in PDF or Excel format.  See and download from:

There are also a few personal documents organizers in dead-tree version, like For the Record with the same purpose, in case you want pre-printed book. See at:

Our Master Information Kit template (listed above) is a simplified version for the most essential information and with an eye towards sharing on Google Docs (or downloading and saving).

Whichever method you choose, having all your vital information in one easily accessible place can be comforting, for both you and your loved ones.


B.  Why you should pack a Survival Flash Drive
Survival,pdocs thumb drive
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When we think of survival scenarios we don’t often think of packing important documents: Drivers License, Handgun Carry Permit, Passport etc. However, I think this is a bad idea, and here’s why you should pack a survival flash drive in your Bug Out Bag.

Consider Your Odds
First, the chances of you finding yourself in a regional survival situation, such as Katrina or Haiti, are much greater than an end of the world scenario.
So let’s assume you were in an area-wide situation, had to bug out, and all of your stuff that’s not on your back got destroyed.

pdocs bureaucratsFear the Bureaucrats
So you made it out, but with all your stuff gone you might not have any of your important documents with you. While that doesn’t really seem important compared to your life, the years worth of red tape and bureaucratic paperwork that we call a government doesn’t care. In fact, at that point you are a non-person.

How do they know you are who you say you are? You have no proof of identification and a terrorist attack just destroyed your city. How do we know you aren’t the terrorist? (After all you had an escape plan prepared)
While this may sound ridiculous, given the nature of our government these days it’s really not that farfetched.

Survival Flash Drive
To prepare for a localized survival scenario in which you will eventually have to re-enter regular society make it much easier on yourself and back-up your most important documents ahead of time.

All you have to do is buy a cheap USB flash drive, (or a waterproof one) scan all of your important documents, and store them on your flash drive in your Bug Out Bag. Bug Out and you’ve brought your all important “life on paper” with you. You can also keep this USB in a element proof bag like a Loksak Bag.

*Don’t go buy a scanner if you don’t have one, just take the stuff to Kinkos or Office Max and have them scan it all for you.

** Warning: Modern Copy Machine and Scanners have an internal Hard Drive that keep a digital copy of everything they scan. All it takes is one malicious worker at the store to steal your identity. If at all possible find a private copy machine and scanner.

What to put on your Flash Drivepdocs documents

  • Driver’s License
  • Handgun Carry Permit
  • Passport
  • Bank Account Documents
  • Birth Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Insurance Information
  • Marriage Certificate
  • All of the above for all Children
  • Important Family Pictures

Be extremely careful keeping up with your Survival Flash drive, back in the regular world that is your identity.


C.  The Most Critical Survival Tool
10 Feb 2011, Bug Out Bag Quest, by Lee
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pdocs smart phone- electronics

I’m often asked by readers: “What’s the most valuable survival tool?” At the risk of offending many people, I’ll share my answer with all of you: It’s not a gun, or a knife, or a way to start a fire, or any of the other macho answers – it’s an iPhone. An iPhone (or similarly featured smart phone) is the only tool that is useful in every type of emergency or survival scenario:

1. Car in the ditch? Call for help.
2. General emergency? Contact your family.
3. Bugout situation? Let your family know your plans.
4. On foot in a bugout situation in unfamiliar territory? Use the phone’s GPS and maps.
5. Want to carry critical personal documents? Store them encrypted in the phone.
6. Need to document what’s happening around you? Use the phone’s HD movie or still camera.
7. Need to be rescued from an unknown location and have cell signal? Take a picture of your surroundings and mail it, complete with geotag.
8. Need your survival library? You can carry 10,000 books with you.
9. Want all this and more for very light weight? You got it – the iPhone is basically a computer that you can put in your pocket.
10. Worried about running out of juice? No problem – the phone can quickly charge from AC, DC, or solar, and will hold a charge on standby for days.

This phone can satisfy all of your communication needs except for a grid-down situation. It can store all of your documents. It can navigate. It is sturdy. It gets my vote as the most valuable survival tool because it is the most versatile survival tool.


D.  Replacing Your Important Papers
5 November 2013,, Release Number: NR-084
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DENVER – Not only were Colorado homes damaged by the recent severe storms, flooding, landslides or mudslides, but many survivors also lost valuable personal documents.  The documents include everything from Social Security cards to driver licenses to credit cards.

The following is a partial list of ways to get duplicates of destroyed or missing documents:

Birth and Death Certificates – Birth and death certificates can be replaced by visiting your county vital records office or on line

Marriage Certificates – The online link for replacement of marriage certificates is

Marriage Dissolutions (divorces) – The online link for divorce decree replacements is

Adoption Decrees – The Colorado District Courts link for adoption records – if the adoption was finalized in Colorado – is

Immigration Documents – Contact your county office or the site below for citizenship, immigration, permanent resident card (green card), employment authorization, re-entry permit and more.

Driver Licenses – Visit any Colorado driver license office with acceptable identification and proof of address. Fee required.

Vehicle Registration, License Tab or Title – Contact your county motor vehicle office. You will need proof of insurance and Colorado vehicle emissions. Fees administered by county.

Passport – Complete form DS-64 from

Military Records – Request Standard Form 180 (SF-180) from any office of the Veterans Administration, American Legion, VFW or Red Cross, or download from

Mortgage Papers – Contact your lending institution

Property Deeds – Contact the recorder’s office in the county where the property is located

Insurance Policies – Contact the insurance company for replacement papers

Social Security Card – Go to a Social Security Administration office. You also can request a copy of your Social Security statement online

Transcript of Your Tax Return – Call nearest Treasury Department office, IRS office or 800-829-3646; request form 4506. To find your local IRS office, go to

Savings Bonds/Notes – Complete Form PDF 1048 (Claim for Lost, Stolen or Destroyed U.S. Savings Bonds); available by calling 304-480-6112 or at

Credit Cards – American Express, 800-528-4800; Discover, 800-347-2683; MasterCard, 800-622-7747; Visa, 800-847-2911

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Post Collapse: Eyewitness 2

(Survival Manual/ Prepper articles/ Post Collapse: Eyewitness 2)

This Is What Crisis Feels Like: A Personal Story: “It All Changed. Literally Within A Day…”
12 June 2013,, by Simon Black
Originally published by Simon Black at Sovereign Man.
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 If you’re one of the 1,000+ subscribers who has take the trip down to Chile, you might have had the pleasure of meeting Marco, my right-hand man in Chile.
One of the great things about Marco is that he intuitively understands our Sovereign Man philosophy. Because he lived through it.
You see, Marco is originally from Argentina. And he has some extraordinary stories about what it’s like to live through a sovereign default and currency collapse.

post collapse riotFrom Marco:
“On December 1, 2001, Argentina’s economy was in trouble. Unemployment was high, debt was high, and recession had taken hold. But life was somewhat ‘normal’.

Basic services still functioned. And no one had to really worry about… food. Or water. Then it all changed. Literally within a day.

On December 2nd, our bankrupt government imposed measures that essentially froze everyone’s bank accounts. You can just imagine– one day having access to your funds, and the next day being completely cut off.

Within a matter of days, people were out in the streets doing battle with the police. The government soon defaulted on its debt, and the currency went into freefall.

I was doing some post-graduate work in Boston at the time. As a foreigner in the US, I wasn’t really able to work… so I was living on a tight budget from my savings.

Yet, overnight, I went from being able to pay my rent and living expenses to being completely cut off from my funds. I had nothing.

But when I spoke to my family back in Argentina, I realized that they had it even worse.

Everything became scarce. The electricity went out all the time. Even food on the grocery store shelves ran low. You would eat what you had available at home.

And in a way, food became a medium of exchange. Within just a few days, people went from having confidence in their currency to not trusting it at all. No one wanted to accept paper money anymore, especially for something as valuable as food.

And if they did, it would be at 2-3 times the normal price. With all of this unfolding, I flew back down to see my family.

My father called me and said he had stashed his life savings in US dollar cash in a bank safety deposit box. He needed my help getting it out.

When we arrived to the bank, there were thousands of people in the streets rioting. The police were there in paramilitary gear. It was so tense, we had to bribe someone just to get inside the bank.

Fortunately we were able to get access to the box. But… we had to walk 3 or 4 blocks to the car. It was half panic, half adrenaline rush walking past an angry crowd with my father’s life savings shoved down our pants.

Looking back, this was crazy. But at the time, it was the only way. Then came the even harder part– getting it out of the country.

We had friends who would take rowboats full of cash to neighboring Uruguay. But this was incredibly risky.

At the time, the only legitimate way to get money out of the country was buying ADRs (Argentine public companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange). And the only reason we were even able to do this was because we had the contacts.

But we got killed on the fees. The commission alone was 20%, and then, of course, the stocks we purchased took a dive.

So my father ended up losing about half of his savings trying to get it out of the country at the wrong time.

What’s funny is that we eventually ended up suing the government. They had destroyed everyone’s life savings, and even seized pensions as well.

The government dragged out the legal process for years, almost a decade. They were hoping that all the retirees who were suing them would simply die off, and the problem would go away.

Eventually, we won the case (along with thousands of others). But the judge gave the government a ‘suspended sentence’. So, no penalty.

There are so many more stories to tell about this… and fortunately I can laugh about it all now. But at the time, it was beyond stressful.

The best way I can describe it is despair. And this is really the worst emotion you can have. Because when you’re in a state of despair, you’re hopeless. It’s a terrible position to be in.

Life becomes hell because you do not know whether you are going to be able to put food on the table the next day.

And in such a state of despair, you’re not in a position to make good decisions. It’s all about survival.

Of course, we kept thinking, “why didn’t we see this coming? Why didn’t we do something sooner?”

If only we had moved some money out of the country before, or taken steps to safeguard his pension, life would have turned out much differently.

It’s like that old saying– better to be a year (or decade) too early than a day too late. Because one should never underestimate the speed with which things can unravel.

B.  Why Most Disaster preparedness Experts have No Clue what the Hello They’re Talking About!
8 Aug 2013,,  Posted by: Rob Richardson
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Emergency Preparedness Planners Are not Planning on Saving you during a Disaster!
I’ve talked to a number of these people over the years, and two thing always become glaringly obvious. First, these people usually despise anyone outside their Ivy League discussion groups – especially anyone who calls themselves a prepper.  Second, they have no idea how to help people become better prepared, and many of them have no idea how to respond to an actual emergency.

Let’s briefly deal with the first point, because I believe they’re behavior is a huge problem – one that is likely to cost many lives.

 Do Preppers deserve a bad rap?
It really depends on how you look at the situation. While I’ve been very critical of shows like Doomsday Preppers, I have met some of these people, and a lot of them are actually incredibly knowledgeable. Yes, some are only on these shows to exploit they’re 15 minutes of fame, but there are a great number of people who call themselves preppers that could be incredibly useful to the general public.

The problem comes in how the media, and shows like Doomsday Preppers, have chosen to portray these people. Instead of highlighting them in a way that can help better prepare the public, we often only here the word prepping when it’s tied to some psychopath who just killed a bunch of people.

Sadly, and something that leads me into my second point, is the fact that these “preppers” often have more practical knowledge than the emergency preparedness experts our government pays to do this for a living.

 Emergency Preparedness… or just Useless Government Bureaucracy?post collapse fema
I’ve been to a number of emergency preparedness conferences and expos, and the one thing that bothers me the most, is how clueless most  of these people are. While most of our first responders have a pretty good idea of what they’re doing, the bureaucrats – and the idiots who run agencies like FEMA – seem to have more interest in how they look than they do in saving the public from disasters.

 Case and Point: Last year I attended an emergency preparedness summit that literally surprised the hell out of me. I went hoping to get a better idea of how emergency preparedness people plan for disasters, what I came away with was anything but helpful.

Conference after conference was devoted to things like social media, how to respond to the media, and how to basically cover their asses once they screwed something up. Hour after hour was devoted to discussions on how to respond to the media when things didn’t go as planned.

These people were literally reviewing case studies of all the times they screwed things up, and then talking about how they could have better handled the media backlash. I couldn’t believe it; instead of reviewing these screw ups, and then figuring out how to prevent them, they instead choose to figure out how they could better respond to media criticism. Government at its finest!

 You are the only First Responder you can really count on!
A couple days ago, I wrote about my experience of watching someone get sucked under the water while attempting to swim across a cove I was fishing near. This experience, along with my experience at a number of emergency preparedness expos, has solidified my belief that you need to be your own first responder.

Whether it’s being prepared for future disasters, or being prepared to defend your home from intruders, the only person you can really count on is yourself. In most disasters timing is everything, and you simply cannot rely solely on emergency responders to keep you safe. You must be prepared to deal with emergency situations yourself, even if that’s just keeping things stable until emergency responders can respond.

 You are the First Responder during an Emergency, and you need to keep that in mind going forward. It’s your responsibility to do everything you can to learn the skills, and the techniques you need to survive in an emergency situation.

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