When it comes to preparedness and survival situations, “shelter” can have various meanings and contexts. There was a time not too long ago, when the idea of a “bomb shelter” was very common. Many decades have passed since the end of the Cold War. It is debatable given the technology of the day, as to just how effective these homemade bomb shelters could have actually been in the event of a full scale Nuclear War between the U.S. and the USSR. However, that is not to say that having such a long-term “Survival Shelter”, or alternative living space other than your home, is necessarily a bad idea.
Not that everyone who reads this column will have the means, resources, or desire to build, or prepare their own long-term survival shelter, but perhaps you do want to create such a haven for your family. Maybe you already have a hunting cabin, vacation home, or some other property “off the beaten path” that may be ideal for such a shelter.
Here are some things to consider in creating and stocking a place that you may need to hunker down in for an extended period of time.
Everything that you have put in your Home Emergency Preparedness Kit, you should have duplicated in your remote shelter, multiplied by the time you expect you may need to hold up there in terms of days, weeks or months. That means:
- Water – one gallon per person per day
- Food – ready to eat or requiring minimal water
- Manual can-opener and other cooking supplies
- Plates, utensils and other feeding supplies
- First Aid kit & instructions
- A copy of important documents & phone numbers
- Warm clothes and rain gear for each family member.
- Heavy work gloves
- Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
- Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
- Plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife for covering broken windows
- Tools such as a crowbar, hammer & nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench and bungee cords.
- Blanket or sleeping bag
- Large heavy duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation
- Any special-needs items for children, seniors or people with disabilities. Don’t forget water and supplies for your pets.
Store the same types of food you would for at Home Disaster Preparedness, again thinking about the amount of time you may need to be in your Survival Shelter. Don’t forget food for pets. Remember to rotate your stores for freshness. Ideal foods include:
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High energy foods
Assume you may not be able to get to the corner drugstore for a while, so have everything that you have in your Go Bag’s first aid kit, also duplicated at your long term shelter. If you take prescription medication, have some extra, but you would be better off to start to improve your health and learn to live without them.
What to Stock Other Than Food Items
In addition, your long-term survival shelter should be equipped with:
- Clothing – Have clothing for all weather, and all year round. Include a good warm coat and sweaters, hats for rain or shine, rain gear, a good pair of hiking boots.
- Hunting equipment – Hunting might be necessary for survival in some situations. How to trap game will be discussed in later chapters, as will firearms.
- Fishing equipment – Get basic equipment. Include assorted sized hooks, fish lines, sinkers, etc. Remember the old adage: Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man to fish – he eats for a lifetime!
- Wood stove – Your cabin, shelter, or get-a-way house should be equipped with a wood-burning stove. Get the kind with a secondary burn chamber. It uses less wood and creates less smoke.
- Tools – An axe, or hatchet, hammer and assorted nails, a bow saw, a chain saw, along with extra gas and oil, spark plugs, and chain. Shovel, wrench set, pliers, wire cutters, screw drivers, pipe wrench, 200 feet of 1/4 inch nylon rope, and of course, duct tape!
- Off-grid power – Generators, preferably ones that can also be powered by solar, or wind.
- Rat and mousetraps – To keep vermin out of your stores.
Where Is the Best Place for a Survival Shelter?
When thinking long-term Survival Shelter, you must think not only about what is in it, but also where to locate it, and how to get there.
Make sure it is:
- Off the beaten track, ideally accessible only by a single dirt road, and by at least a 4WD vehicle.
- Plain, not fancy. On the outside it should look like a simple hunting cabin, or weekend shack, so as not draw a lot of attention from locals and/or become a target for vandals.
- Close to a spring, well, stream or other natural source of water.
- Within 10 to 20 miles of a village or small town where you can get to by foot, if necessary, for additional supplies, and news of the outside world, should you need it.
- Have enough land for growing your own vegetables and other crops.
- Close to a natural, easily harvestable food source, such as plentiful wildlife for hunting, or lakes, rivers streams for fishing.
- Stocked with enough weapons and ammunition to defend yourself from small groups of marauders or bandits, should you have to. More on Firearms, and firearm training will be discussed in Chapter 31
Taking shelter could mean the difference between life and death in times of disaster. No matter if that is in a simple lean-to, or long-term survivalist compound, remember that the two most important things you need to bring with you are your Go Bag, and your wits!