US Nuclear Target Map. Do You Live in The Danger Zone?

Ever wondered if you live close to a potential nuclear target?Even if you live in a small town or rural area... don't think you are safe. Not all strategic targets are in heavily populated areas. Find out if your county is close to ground zero.


Category Archives for "Shelter"

The Ultimate Guide to Living Off The Grid

The Ultimate Guide to Living Off The Grid

There are numerous disadvantages to having your life tied to the grid. Firstly, it means that you have to adhere to all the set rules created by whoever is in charge of the grid. The people in charge of the grid are not really concerned about taking care of the environment. Thus, by living on the grid, you are contributing to the slow death of the Earth.

Living off the grid means that you are insulated when disaster strikes. For instance, if war breaks out, your survival will not depend on the ability of those in charge to keep things running. The grid is derived from the ‘electric grid.’ However, it refers to various utilities such as food, water, and other amenities you need to survive.

Understanding What Living Off the Grid Will Mean Personally and Legally

Recently, there has been a lot of misleading information spreading, claiming that living off the grid is illegal. However, these articles are not wholly wrong. Government regulation has made it more difficult for people to live off the grid. After all, the government would lose the most if everyone suddenly went off the grid.

In some places in America, regulation has made it illegal to collect huge quantities of water or to have solar power, which is not tied to the grid. In some places, you may even be prevented from living in a travel trailer or to camp on your land. In other places, they have created regulation that makes it hard for you to build an off grid home. It is done by creating strict building codes.

Additionally, the banks are not very willing to lend on off-grid homes. Thus, it would seem that off-grid living is becoming quite difficult in America.

Differentiating Off Grid Living From Self-Sufficiency

Some people tend to intertwine these two terms. However, being self-sufficient does not always mean living off the grid. Living free of public utilities does not always make you self-sufficient.

By being self-sufficient, it means that you do not rely on others for food, power, defense, shelter, and many others. However, getting off the grid is a first step to being self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is a long and complex journey that will require a lot of commitment to the course.

Getting an Off-the-Grid Source of Electricity

If you are going to be living off the grid, you will probably need some electricity. Some of the best methods for getting power off the grid are solar power and wind turbines. The choice of electricity source that you use will depend on your locality.

Click here to get a free solar quote.

In some places, it could make a lot of sense for you to use solar power because you receive plenty of sunshine. In other places, it would make more sense for you to use wind energy, especially if you live on a slope that receives high amounts of wind. In some places, it would make more sense to use both solar and wind.
However, in all cases, you will need some kind of storage component for off the grid electricity. Wind and solar are intermittent sources of electricity. It means that they only work when there is wind or the sunshine respectively. Ensure that you choose a storage battery that has a long life and a huge capacity. Besides that, you will have to combine it with other technologies such as cloth lines and LEDs. They use less electricity, which allows you to conserve the limited power produced by solar and wind sources.

Use Micro Hydro for Off-Grid Power

If you are going to live off the grid, micro hydro power is probably your best bet. This type of electricity source only requires a source of running water and some elevation. The force of gravity will do the rest. The water will move to the bottom from the top, and the momentum will be used to turn the turbines.

The good thing about micro hydro power is that it is constant. Unless the river dries up, you will always have power in your home. It is thus important that you choose the source of you micro hydropower carefully. You should ensure that it does not dry up seasonally.

Otherwise, you will need to have an alternative for when it does dry up. If you do not have a stream running through your land, micro hydro is not a viable option.

Be Prepared to Look for Your Food

One of the most time and resource consuming activities of living off the grid will be trying to find your own food. For instance, you will need to learn how to track wildlife for protein and how to grow food sustainably.

Creating food systems is not easy. Depending on how big your family is, it could take you up to ten years to get the system implemented. It is important that you plan for every aspect of your food production system without being in a rush.

Once you are done implementing the system, you will now need to focus on harvesting and storage. After you have managed to implement a system, you can expect to spend a significant amount of your time maintaining your system. You should also be prepared to do quite a lot of studying. You will have to read various books written by experts on how to create a sustainable food system.

You Will Need to Find Water

If you are living off the grid, you can do without most things, but water is not one of them. You will require water for keeping clean, cooking, and drinking. Otherwise, your attempt to live off the grid will fail.

One of the most common methods used is to drill for water.

However, that may not be possible in some areas because of fracking. You will be forced to use other methods to access your water. To pump the water from the ground, you can use wind or an electric pump.

If you have wind power, it is the best option since it consumes the least amount of energy. One way of getting an alternative source of water is by using rainwater collection. If you live in an area that receives good rainfall, ensure that you collect every drop you can. However, you will need to install a system to treat the water. That way you avoid drinking water that has been contaminated by bird droppings.

You will also need to have a major storage tank. The water level sometimes gets too low for you well during the dry months. Have a storage vessel that can hold at least 1000 gallons of water. If your water pumping equipment fails, you will still have a source of water before you can do repairs. Set the water collection tank in such a way that it collects water and delivers it to you by gravity.

Reduce Water Usage

Besides having enough water, you will need to reduce your usage. In America, everyone uses about 100 gallons of water daily per person. In comparison, people in Africa use about 5 gallons daily per person. That is clearly and an indication that you may need to make a few adjustments to how you live.

You will need to purchase appliances that are water-efficient such as dishwashers and laundry machines. That way, you will reduce the risk of running out of water while living off the grid.

Building Your Off-Grid Home

If you are going to live off the grid, you will want to come up with a house that is not hooked up to the grid.

Additionally, you do not want to use conventional materials to come up with a house since that would go against your desire to be independent of the grid.

Check out more on building off grid here.

Also, you see read this article on How to Build an Off Grid Home Easily and Essentially for Free.

Why It is Important to Use Natural Materials

Cement production is one of the most environmentally polluting activities on earth. Besides that, it requires huge amounts of energy to produce just one bag of cement. The waste produced by cement factories is also not recycled. If you use natural materials, you will be reducing the impact you have on the earth, which one of the reasons for off grid living.

Some of the most common materials used in off grid living are straw bales, sawdust, wood chips, sticks, and earthy materials. The most common earthy materials used are earthbags, adobe, rammed earth, cob, sand, stones, and rock. Other materials often used for off-grid house construction are coconut, sisal, cork, and bamboo. These are all fast-growing plants that can be renewed with ease. You can learn more about that here.
The best way to determine what material you will use is by looking at your area. If you find that there is sand, clay, rocks, or lime, that may be what you should use. The main reason for using materials in your environment is that you will not have to transport them over long distances. The energy used to transport materials over a long distance usually contributes to environmental pollution.

Consider Using Trash

Most people are familiar with the use of old tires, used bottles, and even soda cans for home construction. Constructing a house with tires usually entails packing tires full of cement or earth and stacking them on top of each other.

However, a less common but effective source of construction material is debris from construction sites. If you know of an old structure that is being brought down, you can opt to acquire the existing materials to construct your house.

For instance, old doors, the roof tiles, and the kitchen counter tops may be re-used for your project. Many companies out there buy debris from demolition sites and use it to construct new homes. Consider using one of these companies to construct your off grid home.

Always think About Size

The average size of homes in America today is double what it was about 50 years ago. A big home uses a lot of energy and resources to construct. If you are living off the grid, you do not want a structure that will cost you a lot just to live in.

Consider coming up with a home that only has as much space as you need. You may also opt to purchase a modular home that comes with everything you need.

You can learn more about how to live off the grid in a tiny house here.



You will require a waste disposal system if you plan to live off the grid. If you have already installed a septic system, you are already living off-grid. That means that your waste does not go to the waste treatment plant. However, if you do not have a septic system, it is still possible to live off-grid.
You home will generate two kinds of wastewater when you live off the grid. The first is black water and the other is gray water. The gray water does not have to be wasted. It can be used to flush the toilet or for purposes of watering the garden. By using it in this manner, you will have reduced your water usage footprint a great deal.
You now have the black water to deal with. This water results from the attempt to get rid of human waste from the home. The best way to get rid of this water is to use a composting toilet. The system captures it and puts it in the same compost bin as kitchen waste, grass cuttings, and kitchen scraps. Consequently, the wastewater is converted into fertilizer for use in your garden.


While living off the grid is a huge effort, it can be done. An average person with basic knowledge on home construction and mechanics can turn this into a reality.

If you are going to go off grid, you will also need to think about efficiency. Otherwise, you may have to expend excessive amounts of energy just to survive.

If you are efficient, it also means that you will not need to use as much money. It is a great way of making your dream of one day being wholly self-sufficient a reality. Many people are already doing it and you can too if you are committed enough.
Links for more information:


10 Best Books About Survival Part 2

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for the 10 Best Books About Survival

this is part 2 of the “Best Books About Survival” list we have.

For part 1, visit the link here –> 10 Best Books About Survival

As a continuation we’re going to start at number 5…

5) SAS Survival Guide  

SAS Survival Handbook
This bestselling survival handbook written by ex-Special Air Service survival expert John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman contains some of the most reliable and respected survival info available.

From old-school navigation skills to up-to-date technologies like GPS, you can learn survival skills for any climate, on land or at sea. Disaster survival and other contemporary topics have been added to more recent additions of this popular and trusted book.

4) When All Hell Breaks Loose 

when all hell breaks loose

When All Hell Breaks Loose 
Another great read from Cody Lundin is his 2009 disaster survival guide, When All Hell Breaks Loose.

For those that liked 98.6 Degrees, you’ll love this large book filled with disaster preps and emergency skills. With topics ranging from bugging out, to building an emergency outdoor kitchen, to dealing with a dead body, there is a wealth of information covered in this very detailed book. This is not just a disaster survival or urban survival book; there are lessons in here for almost any type of emergency. This is one of my favorite books.

3) Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants 

Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants
Every survival library needs a copy of this book, and so does every Bug Out Bag. The 400 plants described in this book are found throughout the eastern half of the U.S., with many of them growing coast to coast.

This concise book tells you which wild plants to use for salad, tea, root vegetables, and many other foraged foods. Don’t let the black and white line drawings deter you.

This book has the details and an extensive number of plants that many slick-looking books with color photos are lacking. Never go hungry again with this book in your pocket.

2) Tom Brown’s Field Guide To Wilderness Survival 

Tom Brown’s Field Guide To Wilderness Survival
This back-to-basics book shows you how to take care of shelter, water, fire, food, tools, and supplies, along with instructions on identifying wild edible plants, tanning hides, improving your archery skills and much more.

This book, along with the author’s score of other books, have created an East Coast survival skills phenomenon.

1) The Outward Bound Wilderness First-Aid Handbook  

Outward Bound Wilderness First-Aid Handbook
This handbook by Jeffrey Isaac, PA-C, is a very detailed medical book, full of technical info written in easily understood language.

This book caters to the outdoorsy crowd and covers many scenarios that you would commonly face while in the wilderness. Muscular and skeletal injuries, toxins, cold injuries, dental problems, and many other ailments and injuries are explained and a variety of treatments are offered.

If this book doesn’t keep you in one piece on the way to the doctor, nothing will.


For part 1, visit the link here –> 10 Best Books About Survival


Top Survival Priority: Water or Shelter?

Top Survival Priority: Water or Shelter?

Where should you be setting your priorities in a survival situation?

Survivalist and preppers understand that the essentials must be covered in order to sustain them should there be a catastrophic event. Sure, planning has gone into making a bug out bag and there have been some skills which have been honed in order to achieve this, but which element should be the top of the top? Should you focus on your food or your water as your main priority?

The Easy Answer

Focus on Shelter.shelter2 This may come as a shock to some people, but the reality of the situation is that you have already acquired your water for the first 5 days. Granted, this will not sustain you for the long run and you will need to find a water source, but if you have done your prepping and planning strategically (meaning that you have not waited until a catastrophic event has occurred) you already have located a sustainable water source.

What would cause you to need to find alternate shelter from your plan?

Your disaster preparedness plan should have a definitive location for your shelter and your water. However, the area can become compromised based upon several factors. These can include:

  • Military presence around your location is too strong – There is a theory that the closer you are to danger the safer you will be. This is not true in a catastrophic event. If your shelter is too close to a military base of operations, you will more than likely be found and seized.
  • Other Preppers have acquired the spot – Yes, you could fight to the death over the area, but this is really not the way that you want to start out your survival. The only way that I would say that you should duke out the survival spot is if you have erected a structure such as a bunker and another person has tried to occupy it.
  • Catastrophic Situations have unpredictably made the area insecure or unyielding – In a catastrophic event you will not be able to predict with certainty how the terrain will be affected. Should you find that the area in your disaster plan is unsuitable, you will need to go to another location.

Shelter should be sought over water as the environment is going to be harsh. As you are looking for an area in which to live, simply finding a spot that has water is not going to be sufficient. You need to ensure that there is a food source, water, a means of getting out quick if needed, tactical advantages, vantage points, the proximity to dangers, egresses, natural lighting, and the condition of the soil (just to name a few).  Now, keep in mind that during a catastrophic event, you will be battling against the terrain as well as everyone else to find a spot. The best solution: Find multiple spots prior to an event occurring.

The more difficult answer

Where shelter is a priority and will need to be found in order to keep you from over exertion, dehydration, as well as provide the basic functionality of a shelter, water may be the top priority depending upon the conditions. Should an event occur and the heat index rise to a substantial level you will need to find water and find it quickly. Granted, you will need to find a shelter to keep from getting sunburned and dehydrated, but without water you will die anyway.


You should not spend more than 2 days looking for shelter. If you have to think of water vs shelter and you have a 5 day pack, you need to ensure that you will be able to allot time to finding water. If after the end of 2 days you have not found s sustainable shelter, you will need to just make do with what is available and seek out some sustainable water. You do NOT want to totally deplete your bug out bags water prior to finding a renewable source of water.

It’s all about the location

Finally, when you are thinking about your survival plan consider where your plan is located. Are you depending on wilderness survival? If so, you will need to focus on the shelter first, as water is more abundant in the wilderness (usually). Are you planning for urban survival? Water will be your main priority as there will be plenty of abandon buildings and structures which you can choose to take shelter in. Look for residences with external water heaters as a quick way to gain access to stored and safe water.

Be prepared and you will not have to prioritize

Where you cannot fully plan for the worst situation, you can be prepared to survive. Preppers and survivalist who have a plan and a backup plan or two should have a few locations selected in various locations which provide ample shelter as well as have a natural water source. Bug out bags should be equipped with tarps and water to provide for immediate shelter and water if needed, but these should be understood to be temporary solutions. Bags which have water straws and water filters can maximize the time that a person can look for a shelter or a route to their bug out location. Do not limit yourself to one plan or have your location around one main river (For example: you would not want to have 15 locations picked along the Mississippi River. If the river becomes polluted to the point of not being able to use it you have 15 useless locations). Diversify your locations around several natural water supplies to maximize your potential for one of the locations to be functional in a catastrophic event.

It is in the best interest of the prepper/survivalist to perform checks on their shelter and water locations. Revamp your plan if you find weaknesses in your plan or if the shelter and water desirability change (for example a 4 lane highway is constructed cutting you off from accessing your shelter without compromising your safety). Prepare, plan, re-plan, and you should survive.

“Surprising” Use of Water Bottle Could Save Your Life

Getting stuck in the wild can be a terrifying prospect. No microwave, no TV, no phone charger. But things get a lot more dangerous when you find yourself without a fire. If only you knew some basic survival skills…

Well you’re in luck. This video will teach you one simple life-saving hack for when things get rough. The best part is that it only requires items that you probably already have with you!

(via Grant Thompson – “The King of Random”)

From the “King of Random” straight to your survival arsenal! Now you know how to start a fire when you’re stuck in the woods.


VIDEO: This Shack In Antarctica Has Been Abandoned For Over 100 Years. What They Found Inside? Stunning!

When these abandoned shacks were discovered in Antarctica, researchers hit the jackpot when it comes to understanding how explorers in the frozen land lived nearly a century ago.


abandoned hut antarcticaErnest Shackelton and Robert Falcon Scott were two of the first men to reach the South Pole and call the frigid, harsh landscape home for any length of time. Now a few of the structures they erected are still there and they shed light on how these men survived in such a desolate, frigid place.



Pip Cheshire is a conservation architect who has been working hard to restore Shackelton’s buildings in the coldest place on earth.l

He has been working to restore them to the condition of when the great South Pole explorers had lived there.

The shack seems very unassuming from the outside.

And it is clearly in a cold, harsh landscape.

Scott’s Hut is surrounded by nothing but winter wilderness.


Life was crowded in these Antarctic huts. Scott is pictured working at his desk.

Clothing was hung up to dry and despite being inside, the temperatures were still cold.

Supplies were brought in and stored in boxes and jars inside the shack.

The ancient-looking stove needed to provide heat to the explorers who had left civilization to venture into the subzero wilderness.

The average high in the summer was 20 F while the average low reached about -56 F. And that stove was the only source of heat…

The men survived on lots of carbohydrates like flour and crackers.

Fortunately the men never had a shortage of salt.

Do you enjoy the rustic look of the place?

The buildings were supposedly abandoned because they leaked water.

Shackelton and Scott were brave explorers who survived the unendurable cold to bring civilization in touch with the South Pole.

Share these historic photos today!

22 Important Differences Between Successful Preppers and You

22 Important Differences Between Successful Preppers and You

Image Source: Beyond off Grid

Prepping isn’t about just collecting supplies and gear, it is actively changing one’s mindset to be prepared for anything.

This lifestyle is absolutely essential for catastrophes of any kind, so here is a look at 22 tips that separate the successful preppers from those that may be woefully unprepared.

1. Stock Your Car

Everyone in your family should have a bug-out bag, but it is not going to be practical to carry it at all times.

As an addition to a BOB, create a well-rounded car kit for every vehicle at your house with enough supplies for at least 72 hours.

2. Create Clear Goals

While having enough food and energy for a few weeks or months is a great place to start, long-term goals are also a necessity.

Start considering what your family’s goals might be all the way up through a few years such as changing your living location.

3. Make Family Communication a Priority

Even a great plan will fall through the cracks if a family cannot properly communicate.

Have multiple failsafe plans for connecting with one another no matter your locations. As an added bonus, have multiple plans if you cannot reach one another.

4. Stock Foods You Like

Few things will bring down morale as quickly as day after day of bland meals.

Take some time to taste test foods that you plan on saving and then rotate them out well before the expiration. Here are a few food kits you could try to see if you like them –> Click here for top rated food kits 

5. Learn Alternate Uses for All Your Prepping Products

Almost everything that is saved for prepping should have multiple purposes.

Simple steps such as saving a bag of dryer lint makes for unbeatable fire starting material.

6. Get Extended Family Involved

Your immediate family is most likely a priority, but including other members of your family will give you a fresh perspective.

Don’t forget about creating a plan for any disabled or elderly family members.

7. Keep a Supply of Medication Everywhere

Outside of a few basic necessities, medication is going to be one of the most important items to have on-hand.

A multiple day supply should be kept at work, in the car, and in your wallet or purse.

8. Go Overboard with Your Water Supply

If there is any spare room on your property or in your car to store water then use it.

A few clean old soda bottles can be turned into a multi-day water supply for practically nothing.

or Click here to Order a Water Filtration System

9. Weekly Inspections

You may not need to do an exhaustive inventory every few days, but a quickly weekly inspection and thorough monthly inspection should be on the agenda.

Click here

10. Always Think Redundancy

Every single vital item should be included in multiple packs or included multiple times in a single pack.

Items like matches or a fire steel can be stashed in multiple places and add almost no weight.

11. Keep TP Everywhere

Almost anything can be used as toilet paper, but why not make your life a little easier after a disaster?

Stash TP in 2 gallon bags throughout your home and keep at least one package of tissue in very bag as well as the car.

12. Practice with Your Gear

Some prepping gear is not as intuitive as others and having the family practice with it all a few times a year is a great idea.

A solar heater may be a great invention, but they are not always the easiest device to figure out on the fly.

13. Be A Good Neighbor

You do not need to become best friends with every single person on your block, but take some time to get to know them.

You never know when a few extra people on friendly terms will become invaluable.

14. Create a Mini Lumberyard

Just as important as having some basic tools is to keep a stock of extra supplies for building and crafting.

A mini lumberyard can be a few jars of fasteners, bolts, wood glue, sealant, and nails.

15. Use Bleach and Iodine

When you have doubts about the safety of a water source, purify it.

A drop of bleach and iodine drops will kill the germs and help with the taste more than iodine tablets.

16. Test Your BOB Bag

Preppers should always be looking for ways to maximize the weight of their bug-out bag and ensure that they can wear it for extended periods.

Take it out, unpack it, pack it, and wear it around while doing chores to see how it feels

17. Keep Fit

Maintaining your own health and the health of your family is another vital step of successful prepping.

Always take some extra time every week to get in some exercise with a focus on strong cardio. Here is a workout regime you can do to stay in SHTF shape.

18. Consider Bartering Items

A disaster could result in the collapse of the modern economy, so start considering some bartering items.

Think of items you would find valuable after a catastrophe and then buy extras specifically for bartering and trading.

19. Swap Out Old Batteries

Keeping a running list of all items in you kit that use batteries and tag the list with the date when new batteries are put in.

Plan on changing out unused batteries every few months.

20. Research the Flora and Fauna Around You

As you begin preparing your family and home, take some time to explore the land around you.

Get to know some good fishing spots, where fresh water is, and what local plants are edible.

21. Invest in Good Maps

This is one area that preppers often skimp on, but a good map can make all the difference.

Have a few copies of city, county, and state maps that are tear and water-resistant.

22. Upgrade to a FRS/GMRS Radio

CB radios can quickly become filled with chatter and are not very secure.

Instead, upgrade to a set of FRS/GMRS radios. These can often be extended up to 3 or 4 miles with encryption features for the top brands. Click here for great deals on FRS/GMRS Radios

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Top 10 Forums For Survivalists

Top 10 Forums For Survivalists

We wanted to create a list of the Top 10 Forums For Survivalists because we previously made a post of the top 20 websites for survivalists that has gotten a lot of positive comments. We didn’t want to leave out the forums, because they are different than traditional websites so we felt that it was important for us to share forums as a separate post.

Becoming a survivalist is not so much as a destination as it is an ongoing journey. A true survivalist is constantly looking for ways to not only improve their prep gear, but to also find the absolute best information wherever they can get it.

Anyone that wants to be a true survivalist should take a look at these top 10 forums that will help them answer major questions, find the newest gear, discuss pertinent news stories, and enjoy a sense of community with like-minded individuals.


American Preppers Network is a comprehensive website that will be useful for those that are new survival techniques as well as highly-trained preppers that have been living this lifestyle for years.

The forums are filled with helpful threads covering everything from basic 3-day kits to simple tips for surviving in different environments. Users also maintain a working map of upcoming expos, items for bartering, and meetups.


While the name may sound a bit odd, Zombie Hunters is actually one of the most popular survivalist forums to-date and has been going strong for over 12 years.

In addition to basic tips and suggestions, there are also a number of relaxed threads with funny, interesting, and though-provoking “what if” questions about certain survival situations such as getting caught in traffic during a zombie apocalypse.

3. has recently undergone a major renovation with a clean, responsive, and intuitive layout.

Members will be able to find any information that they will need on bug out bags, survival kits, hunting tips, and more. The highly-active community also discusses current news and events from around the world with a focus on how it may affect their prepping.


Survivalists that want to avoid the frills or unnecessary discussions may enjoy Wildwood Survival forums.

This website breaks down its forums into basic categories such as shelter, fire, tracking, and foraging. The discussions often focus on a specific location such as the Pacific Northwest, and then offers tips and suggestions for surviving in that area.


These forums do focus on knives, hatchets, and other bladed tools, but it also has quite a bit of information for the survivalist.

Every survivalist is going to have at least a handful of blades on them at all times, and the members of these forums offer in-depth reviews of various bladed products and can even help survivalists save money with upcoming sales and redemption codes.


The Survival Mom is a sister site to American Preppers Network and focused on busy mothers that use a minimalistic approach to their prepping.

While the layout is geared towards women, anyone can join the forums and enter into discussions on survival products, upcoming sales, foraging, home gardening, and countless other topics. This is one of the best websites for those that are prepping on a strict budget.


Survivalist Boards is another comprehensive site for those that are ready to get serious about their survivalist mentality. The community is extremely active and members continue to help one another with everything from new bargains on gear to trades and bartering.

As an added bonus, Survivalist Boards also has regular giveaways for active members with prizes such as new knives, backpacks, flashlights, stoves, and more.


This website is useful in the fact that it covers many of the topics that a survivalist may wonder about but is generally not covered in other forums.

The primary focus of Survival Cache are the products that most preppers will want to acquire with regular reviews done by members and moderators. he forums are primarily used to discuss recent articles or make suggestions on what future articles members would like to see.


Much like the name implies, the forums focus on the guns, ammo, and knives for survivalists. Members often post their experience with certain guns and how they feel those weapons would hold up in a survival situation.

While there is quite a bit of information on AR-15s, members will be able to find broad information on other guns and manufacturers including pistols, AK-47s, precision rifles, and hunting rifles.


The Wilderness Survival forums covers some of the highly-specific skills that a survivalist will need when out in the wild.

The discussions often bypass the basics and move directly into more advanced information such as the medicinal uses of specific plants or how to make emergency repairs on specific vehicles. Overall, these forums are a great option for the advanced survivalist.

Becoming a true survivalist is about constantly searching for the best information, new techniques, and advanced gear that can be used to survive and thrive in any situation.

These 10 forums are great places for preppers and survivalists to collect information as they move toward self-sufficiency.


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If You Read One Article About Survival Training Read this One

You find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere with the sun setting fast.

It’s too late to try to find your way back to civilization, and you only have about an hour of good sunlight left to seek shelter and protect yourself from the chill that is coming.

Luckily, you know the six most important survival skills that every person must master.

By thinking quickly and putting your skills to good use, you can find a suitable location, build a shelter and protect yourself from the elements.

The Six Survival Skills You Must Master

Survival training protects you in the event that you find yourself battling the elements. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in a situation where you need to call upon this training.

However, knowing how to protect yourself can mean the difference between life and death if you do get stuck in the wilderness.

1. Finding and Building a Suitable Campsite

You may not have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a place to set up your camp. Look for a location that is high, and avoid paths and valleys that make it easy for water to flow directly toward you.

Look at the area around you and make sure there aren’t any dead branches hanging above you that might fall during the night. When possible, look for an area close to running water and against a rock face to help protect you from the elements.

The best shelters are made from natural elements. Look for a downed tree that is firmly secured by rocks or other trees. Cover the tree with any debris you can find like moss, leaves and branches.

Finally, cover the inside of the lean-to with debris to help insulate you from the ground.


2. Finding Ingredients for a Fire

No survival training course would be complete with instruction on how to build a fire.

Building a fire requires tinder and kindling ranging in size from a toothpick to a pencil. Place a large log as the base and then add your tinder. Tinder consists of fibrous material that tends to burn easily and quickly.

Look for dry brush, leaves or shred branches to create your tinder. Light the tinder and then start stacking the smaller pieces of kindling. Gradually add larger pieces of kindling in the shape of a lean-to.

This allows air to flow through and fuel your fire. Once the fire gets big enough, add additional logs to the fire. If the logs are damp, keep them close to the fire to dry them out and make it easier to keep your fire going strong. A fire can act as a signal for help and protect you from the cold.

3. Finding Clean Water

Ever wondered why cats tap water with their paw before they drink it?

It’s a behavior that stems from a knowledge that stagnant water is not safe to drink. Running water is your best option for clean water.

Avoid anything that has been standing for a long time, such as water you might find in puddles. The best option is to boil your water, but that isn’t always possible.


Rain, snow and dew are also fairly safe options for water. If there is a waterfall or a river with water that cascades over rocks, that source should be your second option.

You can filter the water by taking some clean clothing, soaking the water in the clothing and then wringing it out. Maples trees and cacti contain good sources of water if you cut a hole and let the water drain out. Water can also be squeezed from vines and thistles.

Finally, consider filtering the water yourself if you have good sunlight. Find a leafy branch and tie a plastic bag around the leaf, come back later in the day and drink the condensation that formed on the inside of the bag.

4. Finding Edible Food

One of the biggest mistakes people in a survival situation make is trying to hunt big game. In a survival situation, you need to conserve your calories and the time and energy required to hunt, cook and prepare game might overextend you.

Plus, if you fail to find food or can’t cook it correctly, you’ve just wasted a day’s worth of energy. Look for easy to catch and find foods like edible plants.

Additionally, you can catch small game like fish, frogs and even lizards. Just make sure to cook anything you catch properly. This is where good survival training becomes important.

Being able to identify the plans that can kill you from those that are safe to eat is crucial to surviving. Memorize the plants common to the area you frequent most often. Safe plants common to many areas include cattail, dandelions and wild spinach.

5. Finding Help

If you are injured, you won’t have time to find your way home.

You need to send out a signal for others to find you. In fact, sending up a signal is a good idea even if you aren’t injured. Each day, find time to create a signal so that any planes overhead or search parties can find you more easily.

Use a signal fire on top of a clearing or hilltop. Create large amounts of smoke by piling on green branches, pine boughs and other green plants.

If you have a mirror, cell phone screen or any other reflective surface and use it to reflect the light from the sun. A reflective signal can often be seen for miles at day or night and is far more effective than a flashlight.

6. Finding Your Way Home

While surviving, you also need to make progress towards civilization. If you’re lost and you don’t have GPS, you can use your environment to ensure you don’t go in circles.

If you’re on a mountain, choose a direction and head down. Follow any streams or lakes when possible, since these natural flow along the line of least resistance and will lead you to the mountain’s base.

If there is no sun, then look for moss on trees. Moss doesn’t grow exclusively on the north side of a tree, but it does grow the most on the north side. This only applies to the northern hemisphere. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, it’s the reverse.

If you find a trail, road or any other indication of civilization, stay on the trail. The important thing is to make a decision on a direction and stick with that choice. Create large markers every 500 feet. This way, if a search party is looking for you they can follow your trail markers.

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10 Reasons Why It Rocks To Be a Prepper

If you want to prepare for problems in the future, you can do so. Now, with so much technology and information, a person can do what he or she needs to do to prepare for a disaster. In the past, people were mocked openly for being preppers. However, after Katrina and other disasters, it’s wise to consider becoming a prepper. With this in mind, here are 10 reasons it rocks to be a prepper.

10) Learn great skills

First and foremost, if you are a prepper, you probably know more about survival skills.

This will help you can foods, live frugally and keep an organized and simple life.

Remember, even if you don’t ever need to worry about a huge event, if you have the skills, you can live a safer life.

9) Peace of mind

Obviously, it is great to have peace of mind.

Think about it, if you see trouble brewing, you are not going to panic if you are a prepper.

No, if you know how to live an independent life, you are going to live a happier life in both good and bad times.

8) Community

Now, there are plenty of people interested in prepping.

In fact, people from all backgrounds love to prep for the worst, and you are going to meet plenty of interesting and hardworking people who are interested in prepping.


7) Friendly to the environment

If you are a prepper, you probably know a little more about your local environment.

By knowing how to live in the wild, you are more of an environmentalist than people you know.

6) Prepared for anything

If you are prepared for anything, you are going to be happier, more relaxed and enjoy life.

Think about it, if you have some cash stashed away and some water and food, among other things, you won’t have to worry.

5) Take on minor things

While a lot of people prepare for the big event, if you are a prepper, you can prepare for a minor one too.

Think about wildfires, earthquakes and such.

If you have all the items you need, you can deal with minor issues.

4) Help others


If you have a survival background and plenty of tools, you can help out others in their lives.

This is true whether you are facing a serious event or a normal one.

Remember, the prepper community is all about helping others, and it’s not about exploiting humanity when issues arise.

3) Make you a better person

Let’s face it, we are safer and more secure than ever.

People don’t worry about foot or other issues like they did in the past.

But, if you acknowledge potential problems, you can grow emotionally and spiritually.

2) Frugal

Without being frugal, you are going to struggle in your day-to-day life.

However, if you are a prepper, you are probably already preparing for serious events, both economic and real-world events such as natural disasters.

For this reason, if you are wise, you are probably frugal, which makes life much easier in the short and long run.

1) Prepare your kids

If you have kids and you want them to be independent when they are older, you will help your cause if you show them prepper skills.

Yes, if they can live without power or deal with things that come up in your life, you will have an easier time.

Sadly, as people rely on technology, this is becoming less and less common, and your children will suffer if you don’t teach them survival skills.

For this reason, if you are prepper, your kids will not be ill-prepared for life.

If you are a prepper, you are going to be well-prepared for what comes up. Not only that, your day-to-day life will be easier as you won’t struggle with as many probelms as your friends who aren’t preppers.

Simply put, your life will rock if you are a prepper.

Top 10 Reasons To Use Green Energy

You are moving your family to a vast homestead in the country.

You have an excellent start on your prepper plan: a large wood pile, plenty of backup medication, a huge stash of non-perishable food and water filtration tablets, a strong method of home defense.

What plans have you made for alternate energy?

It is essential to remove your household from the grid. The following are the top 10 reasons why you should consider using green energy instead.

1. The inevitable energy crisis.

The fossil fuels (coal, gas, and oil) many Americans currently rely heavily on have become very limited resources. One day they will completely dry up. You need to ensure your home’s continued functioning by implementing green energy practices.

2. An energy crisis is critical.

Americans continue to drive around in gas-guzzling Hummers, leave lights on around the clock, and keep television sets running day and night. Once the fossil fuels are gone, panic will ensue. Cars will not be drivable. People will be at a loss regarding how they should function in this new, powerless world.

3. Water will be in short supply.

Without power, water will no longer magically appear from your kitchen faucet. There are over 300 million people in the United States alone. While it is usually easy to find a body of water, not everyone has the knowledge or means to ensure this water is properly and safely filtered.

4. The modern oven will no longer cook food.

Most American households are only equipped with electric or gas fireplaces and stoves. Wood-burning fireplaces and stoves have become unwelcome dinosaurs in our modern age.

5. All forms of communication will effectively be cut off.

Most people will not be able to get in touch with loved ones living far away. There are many devices out there that run off of solar or hand-crank power, such as radios, phones, and flashlights.

6. Solar panels are an excellent source of energy.

They are unbelievably easy and fairly cheap to build from scratch with tools and materials you can find at your local hardware store. The guide found here will give you all the information you need to build them. Solar power can be used as an energy source, it can be used to heat your water, and it can also be used to cook your food. It is clean, free, and readily available. Just ensure that you have a suitably sized battery bank to store your solar power for nighttime use and cloudy days.

7. Windmills as power generators.

Windmills as power generators are another excellent energy source that is easy and cheap to build by using the instructions in this guide. You will need to ensure you have an appropriate sized battery bank to store this wind power for times when the wind is low or not blowing.

Backyard-Wind-Power jpg

8. Hydropower is an effective way of generating home energy.

If you live near a flowing stream of water, you can build a water mill that will provide continuous power.

9. Vegetative roofs

Vegetative roofs are a fairly new enterprise for America, but they have been around for centuries and they offer many benefits to the user and the environment.

They provide insulation, reduce rain runoff, and you can even plant a vegetable garden up there. Get rid of those shingles and add some vegetation.

10. Geothermal is a method of using the internal ground energy.

In this technique, fluid is piped through the ground to capture the Earth’s natural heat. It is then piped into a geothermal heat pump located in the house. The pump then uses this energy to heat and cool your house.

These are ten important reasons to convert to green energy. There are many more reasons that can be found with a little research. In the end, the crucial question is just how ready do you want your home and family to be for an energy deficiency?


7 Tips to Building Your Own Bunker


If you’re of the Prepper persuasion, you’ve probably given quite a bit of thought to constructing your own bunker. While there are companies out there that offer to do it for you, keep in mind that not all of these are equally good, qualified, or honest. If you have connections with someone who is experienced in the field of construction or engineering, you may want to enlist their assistance in building your own. One word of caution—never use a shipping container as the basis for your bunker. Not only is it not structurally sound once buried, it poses a number of other problems. Rather, take a look at military survival guides on the subject, as well as investigating schematics posted online. This article will provide seven tips to get you started on your survival project.

Survey and Permits

First, unless you live on a large piece of property in the middle of nowhere, you’ll want to obtain the proper permits for building your bunker. No large-scale building project is ever completely secret, no matter how much stealthy you are. Just bite the bullet and register your bunker with the city or county. It will save trouble and money in the long run.

The next thing you’ll want to do is obtain a geological survey of your prospective area where you plan to build your bunker. You should construct your shelter well out of the 100 year flood plain, while ensuring that it is buried as deeply as possible. It should be clear of any debris fields, multi-story buildings, and potentially unstable geological formations.

Drawing Up Priorities with Redundancy

Because you don’t know how long you may need to stay in your bunker, it’s probably a good idea to move a bit beyond the basic four walls and a bucket model. This will take time and cost a good bit of money, but planning a functional, livable structure is what matters most in this endeavor.

When it comes to ventilation and exits, you want to design with multiple options in order to avoid an emergency resulting from blockage. Exits should always be accessible with as little distance as possible from the main structure. Air ventilation shafts should be designed to be structurally sound and easily serviced in the event of a blockage.

Water, Air, and Light

Because there aren’t any windows in a bunker, you’ll want to provide more electric light powered by a separate generator. You should also consider using UV lights in at least a few places, in case you have to stay underground longer than you originally anticipated. This will keep everyone healthy and reasonably equable.

Water filtration systems are a must for several reasons. The concept of the bucket may sound appealing, but it’s a huge problem with it comes to sanitation. Bottled water may last for a small while, but it’s harder to cook with and impossible to bathe with—which is water you’ll want to recycle if you have to stay in the bunker for a long time. Go ahead and invest in a good quality system. Air scrubbers are also expensive, but in the event of radiation, toxins, or other factors that make the air from the outside unfit to breath, you’ll want to have good ones in place.

Build with Concrete

This is tricky, but if you have patience, a poured structure can be far more secure than one built from cinderblock. Study the techniques and requirements or enlist the help of a like-minded Prepper with skills in this area.

Space for Drywall

Just as in a normal home, plan to conceal wiring and ductwork with drywall. This is as much for psychological reasons as for safety. Drywall helps to protect sensitive systems and wiring from damage while also providing an appearance of normalcy. Plus, in the event of a problem, it’s easy to cut and repair.

Plan for Privacy

When drawing up your bunker plan, incorporate space for people in your family to have some privacy. One of the quickest ways social cohesion deteriorates is when people cannot escape the presence of others. It is detrimental to the human psyche to never be alone.

Room to Grow

In the event that your stay in the bunker is longer than you might want, have space for crafts and activities. This can be as simple as adding on a bit more room to your original plan. One application that is often overlooked is the use of UV lights to grow fresh vegetables and fruits in a hydroponic garden. This can also be a part of your water and air filtration system if you so desire.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that the end won’t be long in coming, it’s best to be prepared for every contingency—socio-economic collapse, nuclear war, or biological terrorism. All these possibilities require you to plan for an extensive stay in a bunker, where you will be dependent upon your own resources and how well you’ve planned. This is more than a storm cellar, and you end product should reflect that understanding. Below are a few helpful resources for further reading.

Further Reading:

Backyard Innovator (Environmental Resourcefulness)
Liberty Generator (Building an off-grid generator)
Backyard Liberty (DIY hydroponic garden guide)


Sold Out After Crisis ( 37 products to store in advance)

Off Grid Living: A Beginner’s Guide

off grid 11

If you are thinking about whether or not you want to live off the grid, you will not want to make this decision quickly. In order to live off the grid, certain comfort items will have to be taken out of your lifestyle. Think long and hard about whether or not you are willing to do what it takes to take yourself off of municipal slavery.

What it means to live off the Grid

Many people think that living off the grid is simply switching from basic energy to solar and wind energy. While this is a step in the right direction, this is not the whole of the matter. By living off of the grid, you are taking yourself off of municipal power, water, sewage, trash and any other outside source of living. Eventually, you will learn how to grow your own food, dispose of your own waste, create your own power source and produce your own water source.


Find the Right Place

If you are looking to purchase a piece of land to homestead on, you will want to take seasonal weather changed into consideration. Since you will be living off of wind and solar energy, you need to ensure that you have a plot that will be able to provide enough wind or sun to power your home. You will also need to make sure that you are able to dig a well or septic tank that can take care of your water and waste. Living completely off the grid inside a city is almost impossible.

Be Prepared to Work Hard

Okay, you will not always have to work extremely hard, but you will need to be able to put a lot of work into making your home functional and comfortable. You will need to be willing to keep a garden, hunt for food, maintain a fire, locate timber for winter storage and many other things that you probably do not absolutely have to do right now. There is no point in living off of the grid if you have to purchase your firewood from the local grocery store.

Be Prepared to Financially Support your Decision

Living off the grid does save a lot of money, but it can be expensive getting there. You need to either be willing to build everything from scratch or fund your decision. While it is not rocket science to build a solar panel, it may not be something that you choose to do. If you decide to purchase all of your equipment already intact, you are looking at tens of thousands of dollars going into your project.

Purchase a Generator (or Two!)


Living completely off the grid is great, but there may be some instances that you want or need power. Think ahead, and buy a generator. While you may have to purchase fuel for it, a generator can come in handy when trying to charge batteries, make it through a cold winter or just plain give you entertainment for a night. No matter what you decide, a generator is an essential item to have around. If you happen to be able to purchase two, that is even better.


Take time to Smell the Roses

A lot of hard work goes into keeping a house off the grid. You need to make sure that you take some time to smell the roses. You do not want to put out all of this work and energy and never be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Sit down and read a book, relax on your front porch or start a hobby. Living off the grid is meant to make life a little easier, and you deserve it if you have made it this far!


To put it simply, you need to be mentally, physically and even financially prepared to live off the grid. You need to make sure that your debts are taken care of, you have a useful plot to live on, can take care of your own waste, grow your own food and much more. The best advice that can be given is if you are in doubt about going completely off the grid, take baby steps. It’s okay to start with something small and go from there. If you take baby steps, you are better preparing yourself, anyway.

3 Things to Include in Your In Your Bug Out Vehicle

In an ideal situation, you will have everything from your BOB to your BOL to your BOV preset and ready to go in a SHTF scenario. The problem is that most people do not live in the ideal world.

Most people nowadays live from paycheck to paycheck with minimal money that is free to use as they please. So, your BOV (bug out vehicle) is likely going to be a vehicle that is used on an everyday basis.

best bug out vehicle



That being said, it might be a little difficult to keep your entire bug out readiness equipment and essentials stockpiled in the vehicle. If you are one of the many that this rule applies to, you will likely have limited long-term storage space.

There are three main things that need to be kept and stockpiled in your vehicle at all times, just in case a SHTF scenario occurs.

Vodka is Versatile


By no means am I suggesting that you go get plastered while driving to your BOL (bug out location). Keeping a half gallon of the cheapest vodka you can buy could actually save your life.

vodka for preppers

Vodka is a great disinfectant when you do not have any other way to sterilize equipment. If you get injured, you can pour it onto the wound, and it will help kill some of the infection that could occur.

Vodka is also extremely flammable. In a situation where you need fire in a hurry, pouring a little vodka and then lighting a flame will almost light up the sky.

Vodka can also be used as a temporary pain reliever or sedative (or sedative). There are many ways that this substance can be used in a SHTF scenario, but you have to remember that it is not meant to party with! 

Never too many Tools

When you think of tools, you probably think of hammer, nails and drills.

When I say tools, I mean hammer, nails, drills, sockets, wrenches and every other tool that you can possible fit into the area.

If you need to build a temporary shelter, tools can come in handy. If you break down on the side of the road, tools can get you going again.

If you need to climb, dig, hide, break into an abandoned house, tools will come in handy. The need for tools is going to be never-ending, so you should start gathering them now.

Not only will tools be handy for survival, but they will also be in great demand if there is a need to rebuild civilization. Having equipment to build homes, beds, furniture and more could almost guarantee you a place in a civilized group.

Remember, most groups will not accept new members who cannot contribute to the group as a whole. 

Weapons and Ammo

Not that you will necessarily have to shoot someone, but that you may need to get some food or protect your family.

While you BOB will likely have some ammo and weapons, it will likely be very little compared to what you can store in your vehicle.

You can never have enough protection and hunting equipment. Also, there is a great chance that when SHTF gun ammo will be as good as gold when it comes to the barter system.

Not everyone will have been as prepared as you, and they will need ammo to get food for themselves or their families, and that is where an abundance of the cheapest ammo that you can find will be handy.

You might even have enough stockpiled to gain some comfort items with the crappy ammo that you have stored for this exact circumstance. 

In an ideal situation, you will have things like tents, sleeping bags, lanterns, lighters, fuel, ammo, food, water and everything else in your vehicle.

If you cannot spare a vehicle to keep stockpiled, make sure that you have your BOB ready to go and your vehicle filled with things that you will need to acquire the fundamentals for surviving the SHTF situation. 

What else would you include in your Bug Out Vehicle? Leave a comment below!

11 Must Read Books To Get You Off The Grid

This collection of books will provide you with tutorials on many aspects of the off-grid lifestyle that we’re all focused on building.

We have books included that teach you how to build your own eco-home, how to harvest water, how to generate your own power and even growing your own food.

In today’s day and age, many of us are planning on going off-grid, downsizing, homesteading, survival prepping or simply living a more “down to earth” lifestyle, it’s great to have access to information and tips from people who have already done it.

Check out the selection we include below. If you don’t want to spend money on the books, remember that the information on our site is free (we have more detailed courses that you’ll pay for as well).

(Note – Sovereign Survival is an Amazon Affiliate and makes a small commission on sales).

By clicking the image of the book, you’ll be re-directed to Amazon where you can purchase the book.

Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable Underground Home

Earth-sheltered houses utilize thermal mass in order to create a low-impact dwelling. Written by a former contractor and founder of an eco-building school with 27 years experience. Rave reviews.

Earth Sheltered Houses

Click here to order 

Projects to Get You Off the Grid: Rain Barrels, Chicken Coops, and Solar Panels

144 pages, a collection of 20 tutorials from turning old windows into a greenhouse, building a chicken coop, making rainwater collectors and even making an algae bioreactor from water bottles!

Projects to get you off the grid

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The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre!

This book is another “cult classic” and teaches organic gardening, keeping livestock, preserving meats and fruits, and more.

The Backyard Homestead

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OFF THE GRID: Live in a Van, Truck, Trailer, or Motorhome

Author JJ Luna is an “interesting cat” as they might say here in California. He’s written other books about how to “disappear” and live as anonymously as possible (legally). This book is in some ways an extension of those ideas. You can save a ton of money by living in a vehicle – and he gives all kinds of ideas on how to do so effectively.

Off the grid live in a wan truck trailer or motorhome

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Harvesting H2O: A prepper’s guide to the collection, treatment, and storage of drinking water while living off the grid

If you’re really living “out there” you’ll find out that while you can go without solar if you have to, you’re really stuffed without water. This book contains tutorials on the dangers of wild water, purifying your own water, water filter construction, distillation, rainwater collection, water storage, drilling wells and more.

Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man’s Solution

I like the “realness” of this book. This is “real world” modern RV survival for someone who doesn’t have a huge budget to buy a big tract of land in the wilderness. Awesome for the modern nomad or drifter who wants freedom from the steel grip of the big mortgage.

Dirt cheap survival retreat

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DIY Solar Projects: How to Put the Sun to Work in Your Home

All manner of solar projects from passive solar water heating through to photovoltaic systems, and plenty of simple innovations such as “thermosyphon” solar heat collectors and clever reflector projects that cost little and provide energy!

DIY Solar Projects how to put the sun to work in your home

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DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner: 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle

All manner of projects including building a beehive, solar electricity, cold frame gardening, setting up a root cellar and more.

DIY Projects for the self sufficient homeowner

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Aquaponic Gardening: A Step-By-Step Guide to Raising Vegetables and Fish Together

Forget GMOs for increased yields. Aquaponics is the answer, because it uses closed loop systems (make a note of this phrase, closed loop systems are going to become incredibly important in the years to come.) Aquaponics is an incredible way of creating what is effectively a maximum-yield “ecosystem” designed to produce healthy food. An essential topic for the “off-gridder”.

Aquaponic Gardening a step by step guide to raising vegetables and fish together

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Earthship: How to Build Your Own, Vol. 1

The classic from Earthship pioneer Michael Reynolds. He has now created a whole series on this topic but this one is the original.

Earthship how to build your own

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Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition

This book is a “cult classic” covering how things used to be done before power tools and modern “conveniences”. Essential stuff from dyeing your own wool with plant pigments through to raising chickens and building a log cabin.

Back to basics a complete guide to traditional skills

Click Here to Order

Would you recommend any other books?


Make your own Safe Room

Let’s face it, most of us aren’t rich enough to purchase one of those neat prefab safe rooms rated to survive F5 tornadoes and Anti tank missiles (I know, I’m exaggerating…) but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a certain room in the house that is our go to Safe Room in the event of natural disasters or home invasions. This article will deal mostly with home invasion, but many of the same principles go into a “storm shelter” room.

But wait, why would someone want to run and hide when a burglar breaks in the door? Isn’t that why we have guns? Why should we hide and let them take whatever they want? First off, yes, you may have the means of defeating the intruder. Multiple intruders? Intruders with the same equipment in hand that you have in your desk drawer?

Let me state clearly, I am not advocating pacifism or any such thing. I am a staunch supporter of Stand your Ground laws. But sometimes that’s not the best way. Let’s say your wife isn’t a “gun person”, she could lock herself in the safe room rather than try to operate a tool she has only a passing familiarity with. What if you leave your 13 y/o in charge of his siblings while you run to the store? Maybe ha can handle firearms, but does he have the confidence necessary to take control of the situation? Beyond that, do you want your child to experience taking a life at such a young age? If he gets his siblings into the safe room then (let me pause for emphasis) EVERYTHING outside that room is replaceable. The situation can run it’s course without loss of life or serious emotional damage. And remember, just ’cause you’ve locked yourself in, doesn’t mean you’re helpless. We’ll talk later about what to do when inside.

But let’s move on. Let me state something so that it is abundantly clear. No Safe Room is Un-Breachable. But there are a lot of things you can do to make it harder than it’s worth. We’re going to discuss how to turn an existing room into a safe room. These same principles can be applied to new construction, often to greater effect.

Location, location, location. Where you locate your room is the first decision you have to make, and it’s an intensely personal decision. If you’re looking for a weather-safe room, you definitely want to go for an interior room. If you want to have a way out (away from the people in the house) then you’re talking about an exterior room with another door or window. If you’re concerned with entry points as vulnerable points in your room, you may again want to have an interior room.  I cannot tell you where to have your safe room, only point out that it is a serious matter of consideration.

Entry points. Entry points are weak spots in your perimeter, since they are designed to, well, allow passage, so they will get the first and greatest attention. You should take a moment to go look closely at your door and frame. First off, most interior doors are hollow core doors. This means they have two sheets of ¼ inch plywood with dead air in between. This is not going to stand up to someone who is both determined, and has a strong kick. You should look into replacing it with a steel door (which are also hollow), or a solid wood door. Preferably out of something hard like Oak. The door to your safe room should have a peep hole. These can be purchased and installed with a relatively simple effort, or if you’re replacing the door, you may find one with it built in. If you’re installing it yourself, you may consider mounting it lower, so you can look through it while kneeling, or so your kids can look through it if you aren’t there. One other consideration is that (especially if you’re setting up for weather disasters) your door should definitely open INTO the room. If the storm leaves debris across the door you won’t be able to push it out. Opening into a room is pretty standard, so you likely won’t have to change anything.

Now let’s talk about the door frame. Most frames are a simple ¾ inch pine, which is a fairly soft wood. By the time you drill the hole for the bolt to fit into you’re talking about a very small amount of wood holding the door in place. A swift kick is all it really takes to tear out a door set up this way.

build a safe room

The striker plate can help add some strength to the door, but the standard screws that come with these things are only 1 inch long, and are only set into that little piece of ¾ inch wood, so they will probably pull out with that same kick. If you only make one modification to your safe room, do this; go to your local hardware store and get a box of 3 inch screws. Now go to your door and replace all the screws on your striker plates and hinges with the 3 inchers. This will anchor your strikers and hinges into the 2×4 stud behind the door frame, giving it a much beefier resistance to pull-outs. You should replace the hinge screws one at a time so you don’t risk getting your door out of alignment. They’re tricky to get back.

What about your locks? One thing you’ll notice about your dead-bolts is that they don’t (typically) stick out very far from the edge of the door, just seating in that ¾ piece of soft wood. Have you realized yet that every bit of your security rests on that little piece of scrap wood? You can get dead-bolts that have an extra long throw, again, seating into the studs behind the door frame. Or you can even get steel inserts that go into the wall that accept the bolt. These are not too complicated to install, just involved. It would be much better if you were able to put these in during new construction or a thorough remodel.

You can get dead-bolts in either keyed “one side” or keyed “both sides”. Keyed both sides is recommended for many home security applications, a burglar who breaks a door window can’t reach in and unlock it from the inside. However, these are a BAD idea for a safe room! If you’re trying to get away from an intruder in a hurry (they may even be chasing you down the hall!) you don’t want to have to fumble with a key. So leave these the typical keyed “one side”. And yes, in case you noticed, I am using plurals for a reason. To make your door really rock solid, you should have four dead-bolts. I recommend five actually. Put them in the four corners of your door, top, bottom, left, right, just keep them about 18 inches from the top/bottom edge. The fifth one? Right where it usually is. There are three reasons for this. One: Your door probably came pre-drilled for a standard dead-bolt (though not necessarily) and you’ll need to fill that hole with something anyways. Two: It gives an extra bit of protection right where the assailant is likely to plant their kicks. Three: Goes back to the scenario of locking up quick. It’s just instinctive to reach for the dead-bolt in it’s usual location. Get in and throw the main lock before your attacker gets there and it should hold him off long enough (if you’ve listened to the rest of this so far) to let you lock up tight.

Windows. Windows are typically seen as one of the weakest points of a home, despite the inherent dangers of climbing through broken glass. If you have a window in your safe room (that you aren’t keeping available as an exit) your best bet is to board it up. You could do bars, but then you’ll look like you live in Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela or something. If you are really concerned with appearances, get some window blinds and hang them inside the window frame instead of above it. Most blinds will have instructions for both. Close them up tight and it’ll cover almost all of what you’re doing to the window. You’ll have to remove any interior window trim. Get a good strong piece of plywood, maybe even paint the side towards the exterior if you want. Make sure it overlaps the window, I would recommend to the next stud. Not the one on each side of the frame, the next one. 16 inches should be the furthest you’ll have to look. Again using the 3 inch screws, anchor the tar out of that puppy, both around the edges and around the window sill. Now, you still only have a piece of plywood between you and them, maybe up to an inch. So you’ll need to reinforce it with 2×4’s, or even 2×6’s if you want overkill. I’d space them roughly 6 inches apart, running horizontally, placed edge on to the plywood. It would be easier to attach these before putting up the panel as a whole, screwed in from the exterior side.

Walls are also a lot weaker than most people realize. All you have between the studs is usually two pieces of ½ inch drywall and 3 ½ inches of air. Pretty easy to penetrate, even with a fist, let alone a foot or shoulder.

...  One of my  nephews put their head through the wall when they were 10.  Not alot of resistance there...… One of my nephews put their head through the wall when they were 10. Not alot of resistance there…

There are two basic ways to “harden” the walls around your safe room. The first, easy way, is to cut a hole in your sheet-rock, probably from inside your room. Make a funnel of some sort and pour pea gravel into the voids between studs. Remember, studs have a standard spacing of 16” from center to center, with variables for intersecting walls, window/doors etc. You can discuss all day how high you should fill the walls, but just remember the basics to help you decide for yourself. One thing to consider obviously is cost. Filling the voids to six feet will require more gravel than say, waist high. Next consider how high you expect the attack to come. Most people face with the task of penetrating sheet-rock are going to kick it, and the typical front on kick is not going to rise far above their hips, or maybe chest. That’s where you need to be protected.

The second, more expensive way to harden your walls is similar to the first, but when you cut the hole I your wall, insert a 55 gallon bag so the opening is sticking out. This will limit how high you can make your re-enforcement, but you can go higher incrementally. Using a funnel as in the method above, pour wet cement into the bag. The bag will contain it so it doesn’t try to seep through gaps in your construction or through switch boxes etc. The cement hardens and viola, you have a cement wall around your safe room. Do be mindful in both these methods that you need to avoid over taxing the walls from the inside out. Especially with cement, doing it in increments will avoid this. Just wait till it hardens, and it won’t be exerting outward pressure so you can add more on top.

Now, what to do when you’re locked up good and tight? First thing, call for help. Keep a phone in your safe room. Land lines can be cut, and would be by serious home invaders. Cell phones can be left on the counter in a panicked rush, and one that you leave in the room is being paid for (hopefully) for nothing. You can get a cheep pre-paid phone, but remember, most such arrangements allow for your minutes to expire monthly, so you need to make sure it’s current or you may end up with a dial pad paper weight when you need to use it.

If you only plan on calling 911, you can store an unused phone. Some time ago there was an agreement made that any phone, on any carrier, even without a plan of any sort, can access any tower to dial 911. So take an old phone, or a cheap phone, and put it in there. Just bear in mind if you want to make any additional calls (“honey, stay at the store till I call you back”), it will not work for that.  Also be aware of battery life.  Even keeping it turned off, you should check it occasionally to make sure it won’t fail during a crisis.

Observe. Remember I said you need a peep hole in your door? Watch what’s going on in your house. Any detail you can see could be used to aid the authorities in finding the intruders. (They also help verify when someone on the other side says “It’s safe now, I’m Officer So-and-so, open up”)

Arm yourself. Keep a firearm of some sort in your safe room. I recommend something that makes a loud “Schuck-Schuck” sound. Nearly as effective as firing it. Besides the universally feared sound, it makes a great blast to discourage someone from having an interest in any hole they may have made. Just make sure you’re responsible with it. If you teach your kids how to run to the safe room before you teach them how to handle the gun, make sure they cannot access it.

All of the above steps can be taken piece by piece, individually, modified to suit your situation. As with anything, you will find a trade off when it comes to security vs. effort/cost. Only you will know what you should do, just please do something, even at the very least, plan. A good evacuation plan (even evac to a room INSIDE the house) and rehearsals is probably to biggest single improvement you can make.