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Survival Caches: What to Put in Them and Where to Hide Them

Survival Caches: What to Put in Them and Where to Hide Them

There’s an old proverb that says not to put all your eggs in one basket. When it comes to storing survival supplies, this proverb rings true. By keeping all of your supplies inside your home (or at any one location) you are setting yourself up for disaster.

This is where survival caches come in. Coming from the French word for “hide”, a cache is a setup that allows you to hide some supplies in a separate location. There’s a lot of strategy that goes into choosing where to put a survival cache and what to put in it. On the one hand, you want your survival cache to be difficult to find so it’s not discovered and stolen. On the other hand, your survival cache needs to be easily accessible, especially if you plan on accessing it during a bug out scenario.

Since most people can’t afford to fully stock multiple locations with duplicate supplies (although you should if you can afford to), the question of what goes into a survival cache becomes relevant as well. To help you decide what to put in it, what container to use, and where to hide it, consider some of the following ideas.

What to Put in Your Survival Cache

Before you decide what container to use, decide what items you’re going to put in it so you’ll know what size you need. So what survival items should you put in it? Basically, the same things you’d put any survival kit. While the contents of your survival cache will vary depending on your location and specific needs, here are a selection of items to consider:

  • Guns & Ammo – In a situation that requires you to uncover your survival cache, chances are protection is going to be a priority. Also, since firearm confiscation is a concern, having a few guns and a supply of ammo tucked away that no one knows about is a good idea. As for which types of firearms you should store, AR-15 style rifles are ideal since they can be easily disassembled for storage and quickly reassembled if the need arises. In addition to this, the AR-15 is arguably the most effective combat weapon that is (as of now) legal for civilians to own. If you prefer a more discrete option, handguns are an ideal choice.
  • Food – A generous supply of food is an obvious choice for a survival cache. In the unfortunate event that your main food supply is stolen or inaccessible, you will want to have enough food put away in your survival cache to get by until you can secure another food source.
  • Water and/or a Water Filter Bottle – Even more important than food is water. If you live near a water supply such as a stream or lake, a water filter bottle is a very space-friendly solution. Otherwise, you’ll want to pack away some bottled water.
  • First Aid Kit – Purchase or build a first-aid kit that, at the minimum, includes bandages, a suture kit, wound-closure strips, a disinfectant, and a pain-killer.
  • Firestarter – The ability to start a fire may prove essential if you are required to spend the day (or multiple days) on the run away from your home.

Of course, this is just the bare minimum. The rest is up to you.

What to Use as a Survival Cache

You can use any container you want, as long as it’s water proof (nothing made of wood, which will rot) and very durable (nothing made of cheap plastic, which will crack). It needs to withstand high heat, freezing temperatures, insects, and rodents.

  • 5 Gallon Buckets – A high-quality bucket is both waterproof and airproof and should hold up for a long time.
  • Ammo Cans – Yes, a metal ammo can will rust, but it should still take years before it has any holes in it.
  • Pelican Cases – These are designed to be weather proof and very durable, but they’re a bit pricey.
  • Dry Box – This is a buch cheaper option, which makes me a little wary. All the reviews say it is sturdy and waterproof, but I don’t know how well it would last after being outdoor for months or years.
  • PVC Tube – PVC is designed to be durable and waterproof so it’s an excellent option. Just make sure you use a very good sealant.

Of course, there are many other options. Whatever you decided to use, consider sealing it inside one or more contractor bags just for good measure. One advantage of doing this is you make it look like nothing more than a bag of garbage to anyone who discovers it. Add lots of crumpled up newspapers to the bag so it looks even more like garbage.

Where to Hide a Survival Cache

Once you’ve put together a survival cache, the next step is deciding where to put it. As I already mentioned, you’ll want to find a place that is both accessible and hard for unwanted snoops to find. Of course, the hiding spots you have available will depend largely on where you live, but here are a few ideas:

  • Underground – Hiding your survival cache under a few feet of dirt is probably the most common means of keeping it safe. Of course, burial isn’t an option for everyone. Those who live in a city will find that most of the ground nearby is covered in concrete while the areas that aren’t (such as in a public park) aren’t a really good spot to grab a shovel and start digging. Still, if burying your survival cache is an option then it is one of the best ways to keep it hidden.
  • Along Your Bug Out Route – Hiding your survival cache somewhere along your bug out route is an obvious choice since the scenario where you are most likely to need your survival cache is a bug out situation. The options you have available will depend on the route itself, but so long as you can find a functional hiding spot at some point in the route, storing away a survival cache there is a good idea.
  • Abandoned Buildings – For urban preppers, abandoned buildings make for a great spot to hide a survival cache. Most abandoned buildings don’t see a lot of traffic outside of a few unruly teenagers, so you don’t have to worry too much about your cache being discovered as long as you hide it well. Abandoned buildings also come with the advantage that, if there is a lot of scrap metal lying around, you won’t have to worry about someone with a metal detector being able to find your survival cache. Just make sure you keep an eye on the building. The last thing you would want is to find that the building has been leveled and replaced by a Starbucks.
  • Disguised in Plain Sight – Locations for hiding a survival cache don’t necessarily have to be off the beaten path so long as they are well disguised. For example, you could hide your survival cache at the bottom of a garbage can that you never empty. Another excellent option for urban preppers is to hide their survival cache in a storage unit. Since you will have keys to the lock, you won’t be reliant on anyone else to help you access it. Just make sure you grab it quickly when SHTF before thieves get around to cutting the locks off. If storage units and garbage cans aren’t ideal to you, there are still plenty of other places that you can disguise a survival cache in plain sight, and locations such as this are typically great for keeping your survival cache relatively close by.

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Wilderness Survival food

It is essential to understand where to find survival food, even food is the least pressing wilderness survival need. With plenty of water and a comfortable resting place, most of us can live many weeks without food.

However, food is important for your mental and emotional state, as well as a source of energy and to maintain a normal body temperature.

Natural food

natural food

In a survival situation, you have to take advantage of everything available to eat. Most wilderness areas are full of natural food, ranging from plants to insects. The food sources you can exploit are determined by the habitat you are in. Vary your diet to make sure you get the appropriate proportions of fat, protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.

Meat and fish are good sources of protein and fat and provide virtually everything a long-term survivor would need. However, at the first stage of a survival situation, plants are the most appropriate diet as plants are easily accessible and contain the necessary carbohydrates.

Wild edible plants

Depending of the time of the year you will almost always find edible plants, unless you are in the middle of an arid desert. Knowledge of only one or two wild edible plants can be of great help in your search for survival food. Learn more about eating wild plants.

Edible insects

Your most vital nutritional needs in a survival situation are protein and fat. Most insects are rich in both. Turn off your cultural bias against eating insects. Edible bugs are good “survival food“.

Fishing

Fish are a valuable food source. Therefore, if you are near a river or stream, fishing is an important alternative to obtain food. Learn different simple methods of catching fish.

Trapping

Unless you are an experienced hunter, hunting animals for meat is inadvisable in a survival situation. Hunting is difficult and you will expend a lot of energy to get your food. Instead of hunting consider trapping. Trapping requires less skill and leaves you free to spend time searching for other food sources. The wilderness survivor needs simple traps that are easy to remember and easy to construct.

Bird eggs

Eggs offer high nutritional value, are convenient and safe. They can be boiled, baked or fried. The first obvious place to look for them is a bird nest. However, not all birds build a nest, but instead lay their eggs directly on the ground or in a hole.

Reminder: Collecting wild bird eggs are not allowed in most countries. Eating wild bird eggs should only be considered in a wilderness survival situation.

Methods of cooking

Cooking is a skill of great importance for all wilderness travelers. Cooking not only makes many foods more appetizing to taste, but also ensure that parasites and bacteria are killed. You don’t want to get sick from food poisoning.

A compact camping stove is very convenient in the wilderness. However, in many situations, a cooking fire is more practical and allows a wider variety of cooking opportunities. As a survival skill, you should also be able to prepare your food without any cooking utensils.

Natural food sources

When you learn more about how to find food in the wilderness you also learn more about the nature itself. The more you learn, the more you will love and enjoy the great nature we have.

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How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster – Emergency Preparedness Plan

Today, we have the ability to predict with more accuracy than ever dangerous tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, and floods. We know the areas that are prone to earthquakes and areas that are susceptible to wildfires, and we can tell hours in advance whether a tsunami will hit our shores.

However, in spite of all the capabilities for advance warnings, Americans are still quite poor at preparing for these disasters. Many of us really believe that it can’t happen to us.

In a 2006 poll conducted by TIME Magazine, 56% of respondents said they had gone through a major disaster. However, only 16% percent believed they were “well prepared” for the next one. Denial, it seems, is an American way of life.

Local and Global Disasters

Thanks to our global economy, it’s not just local disasters we need to consider. Disasters in other parts of the world now have a direct effect on our economy; diseases in other countries can quickly find their way to the States. Food shortages elsewhere can cause food riots, which then lead to speculative price swings over here, that can quickly raise the cost of food. A cyber-attack from international hackers could threaten our financial industry or even our electrical grid.

Now, the likelihood of some of these things happening are rather slim, and it’s doubtful that anyone needs to stock a year’s supply of food and supplies. This would be expensive and unrealistic.

However, most people are not prepared, at all, for any kind of disaster. Most communities only have a three-day supply of food in their stores to feed the local population. What would happen if food deliveries couldn’t arrive for a week or two?

How to Prepare for Disasters

Some simple, quick preparations could make the difference between life and death for your family. Here are several steps you can take to be ready for a disaster.

1. Stock Up on Used Helmets

A few weeks ago I was listening to NPR as I was cooking dinner, and I heard a moving story about a young boy, Noah Stewart, who lived through a tornado that hit his Alabama home.

Noah was sucked up into the tornado and then dropped. He landed head first, a fall of such force that, under normal circumstances, would have killed him. However, he survived because his mother made a split-second decision to put a baseball helmet on his head right before the tornado hit. Noah was unhurt after the storm. But the helmet cracked down the middle.

The CDC states that they can’t say whether helmets save lives during a tornado impact. However, it still seems wise for anyone in a tornado-prone state to keep several helmets at the ready. Any added protection is going to increase your chance of survival, and as Noah’s story clearly shows, helmets can save lives.

You don’t have to buy new helmets – picking up used bicycle, football, or baseball helmets at thrift stores and garage sales can save money and keep your family protected.

However, it’s essential that you keep these helmets in an easily accessible place; they should not be used for any other purpose, as they may be misplaced. Remember, when a tornado hits, you might only have minutes – or even mere seconds – to find shelter. You don’t want to be running around the house searching for those helmets.

be sure to have an escape plan should disaster strike

2. Create a Plan With Your Family

There might be some disasters that require you to flee your home, such as floods, wildfires, tsunamis, hurricanes, or a terrorist threat. Creating an emergency preparedness plan can feel overwhelming, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a clear step-by-step guide to help you do this.

One of the most important plans you should create with your family is an escape plan. For example, experts predict that New York City is long overdue for a direct hit by a major hurricane, which would swamp lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. This is a city with more than eight million people. What’s the fastest route to escape? If you had to get out, and you had no car, where would you go? These are considerations that need to be thought out ahead of time.

It’s also smart to figure out how you’re going to communicate with your family in the event of an emergency. You can’t always count on your cell phone to work, especially if towers are down or the network is jammed by many people trying to call loved ones. You can use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or text messages to stay in touch with your family, since the 3G network might still work, even if the cell service doesn’t.

Make sure everyone in your family has these social networking apps on their phone, and that they know to use them if their calls don’t go through. If you have an iPhone, you might also want to download the Emergency Radio app, which lets you listen to fire and police scanners, as well as NOAA weather updates, Coast Guard communications, and more.

3. Buy Emergency Medical Books

Imagine that a tornado has just destroyed half your town, including your own neighborhood. Someone in your family has been severely injured. Do you know how to stop severe bleeding? Would you know how to treat them if help was hours away?

There are a million medical emergencies that can happen during disasters, and you can’t always rely on immediate medical help. It’s just smart to know how to handle some common emergency situations yourself.

Field Medicine
I’m fascinated with field medicine, as it’s called. This is the type of emergency medical care that takes place “on the field,” often without a lot of supplies or a qualified medical professional on-hand for guidance. In a disaster, this type of emergency medical first aid is what can save lives.

I have two books that cover field medicine. One is “Where There Is No Doctor,” by David Werner. This book is used by the World Health Organization, and it teaches you how to treat serious illnesses, how to help a woman through childbirth, and much more – all without a doctor.

The other book I have is “Ditch Medicine,” by Hugh Coffee. This book focuses more on serious wounds and traumatic injuries. It shows you how to stitch muscles together, how to treat anaphylactic shock, how to treat infected wounds, and much more.

“Ditch Medicine” is fascinating, and includes many pictures and diagrams to teach you how to treat these emergencies safely. Both of these books can be bought for less than $20 each.

be sure to have plenty of nonperishable food stocked

4. Have a Well-Stocked Food Supply

FEMA recommends that every family have enough nonperishable food items and water on hand to survive for at least three days. They recommend the following foods on their website, Ready.gov:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal or granola
  • Peanut butter
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Crackers
  • Canned juices
  • Nonperishable pasteurized milk
  • High-energy foods like nuts, trail mix, and canned tuna
  • Multivitamins
  • Food for infants
  • Comfort/stress foods like chocolate, cookies, or other high-calorie sweets

Having a long-term home food storage on-hand doesn’t take a big investment. You could save money buying some of these items on sale or by using coupons.

It’s also smart to know where your nearest source of fresh water is, and have several different methods to disinfect this water, just in case water is unavailable for a period of time.

For instance, I know my closest fresh water supply is a lake half a mile from my home. I have a steam distiller, which I can use to sterilize the water if I have electricity. I also have several handheld water purifiers, as well as bleach, that I can use if I don’t have electricity.

Final Word

It’s human nature to avoid thinking about these worst-case scenarios. After all, none of us want to imagine a pandemic sweeping the country, or a tornado barreling through our own neighborhood. But these things do happen, and the best thing we can do is to prepare for these events. Even a little bit of preparedness can make a big difference.