Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Prepper, Too? – Emergency And Survival Shelter

photo of a campsite and campfire

by Oletta Branstiter


Gimme Shelter!

When the excrement hits the oscillator, the first thing to consider for immediate survival is shelter.

What are the bare necessities of a shelter? At the very least, a shelter must protect us from the weather and environmental dangers. It must provide an enclosed space, defensible entry, enough space to store resources and do protected tasks, and places for everyone to rest.

Hard Lessons

My daughter, a Hurrican Harvey survivor, is learning that shelter can involve more than mere survival. When the flood waters began rising swiftly in Houston on August 25, 2017, she managed to get her car out of the area by following the wake of a raised pickup with big tires just in time to get out of town before the first two floors of her apartment building were inundated.

While her third-floor apartment was untouched by the flood, electricity was off, the neighborhood was devastated, internet service was unavailable for weeks afterward. When the demolition and reconstruction began below, the bugs, dust, noise and general chaos made the thought of returning to the old apartment unthinkable. Yet, the apartment company expects the original lease agreement to be honored by the residents.

She’s living with me and her dad until she can save enough money to pay off her lease and rent a new, smaller apartment in our town.

Should I stay, or should I go?

In case of emergency, it’s best to “shelter in place,” if possible. Make sure that the home is prepared for different emergency situations. In certain cases, such as extended weather emergencies or community chaos, you should have defensive weapons, hygiene supplies, and enough food and water for an extended confinement.

Be smart – avoid living in a flood zone. Use landscaping and proper drainage to minimize damage due to heavy rains, while installing rain barrels to collect the extra for use later!

Identify the safest areas in the home in case of tornado or break-ins, and store some easily accessible food, water, blankets, weapons, flashlights, emergency radio, and first-aid supplies there. Have slumber parties with your kids to teach them when and how to use this protected place. This will minimize fear in an actual crisis.

Become familiar with those neighbors who can be trusted to help in an emergency, in case you need to pool your resources as you “shelter in place”.

Hit the road, Jack! 

traffic congestion both directions I-95

What if sheltering in place isn’t feasible? You should have a “safe place” as close as possible. Everyone in your household should know the place you will go when you can’t stay in your own home, because an emergency may occur when you are separated.

Who are the friends or family that will take you all in when you’re in trouble? Are you ready to G.O. (Get Out) in a timely manner, and provide shelter on the run?

Ideally, your emergency will not be so widespread that it affects your closest “safe place”. You, like my daughter, will travel a few hours away and find refuge and shelter from the storm until the difficulties are resolved. But a true Prepper is ready for even worse.

Tip: Keep your automobile gas tank at least half full at all times. As we learned from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, even a false “gas shortage” will cause added problems you don’t need when it’s time to GO!

Temporary Shelter

camping tent interior with air foam mattresses and sleeping bags

When I grew up, camping was a popular activity. Now, I realize it was a way of teaching survival skills, even if our parents never mentioned training. We need to use every possible opportunity to provide lessons in preparedness to our children because we want to raise competent, independent, resourceful adults.

Do you have a tent kit, sleeping bags, tarp, small shovel, hammer, netting, camp cooking kit, portable hygiene and first aid kit, packed clothes, food, water, etc. all easily accessible in case you have to G.O. in a hurry? Tip: Place towels and washcloths in each sleeping bag before rolling for storage.

I call these supplies G.O.B.s – Get Out Bags, Buckets, and Bins. These are bags, buckets, and bins stored at home, available to grab and take with the entire family. (It’s a good idea to keep a hidden stash of cash in every G.O.B.)

assortment of essential items to have in a survival / prepper / camping situation (flashlights, thermos, bedrolls, army knives, cooking utinsels, etc.)

Let’s start a list to pack in duffle-sized bags or backpacks:

1 bag for an extra set of clothes for each person

1 bag for hygiene, Ziploc baggies, and first aid supplies for all, matches and flints

List for G.O. Buckets with lids

3 for daily provisions for each person (breakfast, lunch, and dinner that need not be cooked, 3 water bottles, cheap can opener in each, matches and flints)

These large buckets with lids come in handy for all sorts of uses!

List for G.O. Bins (large plastic storage bins with lids)

1 for hygiene and first aid (cleanliness is a priority to avoid illness), boxes of baggies in different sizes

1 for cooking and eating supplies and more foodstuffs (non-perishable, obviously)

1 for tools, tarp, netting, rope, duct tape, matches, and flints

Hopefully, your tent kit comes in its own bag.

Water containers with handles

Make sure there is room in your vehicle for all G.O.B.s plus people and pets – if not, you’ll need to reduce and consolidate G.O.B.s and have a designated safe place as close as possible.

Then, make a plan with trusted friends and family that will be part of your Survivor Club in case of a crisis, and GO CAMPING with all these supplies to see if it keeps you all alive for a weekend!     

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