What Is Off Grid & Urban Preparedness?

This website is created to share the collection of information about building an off-grid sustainable earth home. We want to share the journey of building an earth home along with the importance of living self-sufficient and being prepared for a disaster on or off the grid. Whether it’s a natural or man-made disaster, it doesn’t differentiate between race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability.  We must be prepared because….

We are ALL at risk!

This website is an informational service. Reading this website denotes your understanding and complete agreement with the terms listed in the disclaimer. Please take a moment to review it before proceeding.

 

~ Afrovivalist

 

 

Natural disasters aren’t the only threat.

Just as it did in 2008, our economy can go bottom-up before we see it coming. Last time millions of people lost their homes and jobs. History says it will happen again, and next time it could be even worse. The currency we use every day could become practically worthless, causing the price of basic items we need to live to skyrocket out of control. The information on this site is meant to help you survive when resources aren’t available, including if you simply can’t afford them any longer. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but if it does, I want everyone to be prepared.

national debt

Off Grid Living

Off-the-grid living is a system and lifestyle whereby people function without the support of public utilities. While being off-the-grid is most commonly thought of in terms of electricity (not on the “grid” that delivers power to the masses) other utilities like natural gas, water, telephone and cable fall in this category too. When a major disaster strikes, any or all of those utilities could be offline for unknown and extended periods of time. Even if it’s not practical for you to go 100% off-the-grid, just doing so partially can increase your self-reliance, security and peace-of-mind in times when public utilities may fail. Not to mention you can often save money in the long run and decrease your environmental footprint. What’s not to like about that?

There are a lot of considerations to make before you go off-the-grid. If you are accustomed to living on public utilities and don’t give much thought to how much you consume, this could come as quite a shock, as lowering your consumption typically goes hand-in-hand with going off-the-grid. Are you willing to make the changes necessary to your lifestyle? Are you a do-it-yourself type of person, or do you rely on someone else when there is something to be done in your home? Costs can add up quickly if you have to hire someone to make the modifications necessary. There’s nothing wrong with easing your way into the lifestyle if you are concerned about making the jump all at once. I discuss many of these topics in other sections on this site, but I wanted to briefly touch on them here because they all tie into a common thread.  Here are a few tips to start out with:

  • Reduce your consumption of utilities: This one is obvious, but it can’t be stressed enough how important it is. Go around you home and make a list of every way that you use electricity, water, and gas (if you have it). Then look at the list and see where the obvious waste is, and cut it out immediately. Look at what remains on the list and see if there are ways you can be more efficient or cut back. Some suggestions:
    1. Turn off lights when they aren’t needed.
    2. Use more efficient bulbs, like LED.
    3. Unplug electronics when they aren’t in use (yes, many electronic devices will still use power when turned off if they are still plugged in).
    4. Check, and if necessary repair/replace, the seal on your doors and windows so your home doesn’t leak heat or air conditioning.
    5. Wear heavier clothes around the house when it’s cold and set the thermostat a little lower, an extra couple degrees makes a difference.
    6. If you can, replace outdated appliances with more energy efficient ones.
    7. Try to do without using appliances, use a broom on hard floors instead of a vacuum cleaner.
    8. Take shorter showers or switch to showers if you take baths.
    9. Before you start, take a good look at your utility bills and note how much you consume. Then track your progress each month. You should see a notable reduction in usage and a cheaper bill. Keep trying to find new ways to conserve and see how it impacts your consumption.
  • Learn how to fix things around your home: The more self-reliant you are, the better. You will be amazed at what you can do if you give yourself a chance. Learning will take some effort, but there are resources out there to help you. You can find a how-to video on just about everything in your home on YouTube. The folks at your local hardware store can be a great resource if you need to talk to someone and ask questions….don’t be shy! Home Depot and Lowe’s have in-store classes you can attend and are free. Plus, by doing things yourself you will save money on labor. But you know what feels even better than saving money? It’s that feeling of pride and accomplishment you get when you look at the great job you did on your own!

  • Plant a garden: And I don’t just mean one of two vegetables. I’m talking about a garden that will provide you with a variety of foods. This might not directly impact your utility use, but it does increase your self-reliance and saves you money at the grocery store. If that disaster hits you will have the comfort of knowing you won’t starve when the grocery shelves are empty. But if you really want to increase your food security, you really need to do one other thing…

 

  • Learn to preserve foods: Once you grow some of your own food, you’ll want to learn how to preserve it to eat later….perhaps much later. Preserving food can help it last longer so that you can store it somewhere. It will last much longer than sitting in your refrigerator or your kitchen counter.

 

Long story short, it is never to late to start preparing for a winter storm, job loss, emergency or disasters.

Get Prepared, Stay Prepared!

Electricity

Off-grid electricity can be supplied from a stand-alone system that powers a single home or mini-grids that serve a small community with electricity. Sources of off-grid electricity include renewable methods like solar and wind power as well as fossil fuel power like generators.

Renewable methods that are often dependent upon conditions dictated by nature….solar panels don’t produce electricity when the sun doesn’t shine, and wind turbines don’t help when there is no wind. Many people will use options like generators as a backup source of power when the renewable sources are not available. There are also battery systems that allow you to store the excess energy you generate for times when you are unable to.

Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity

More and more people are choosing to be connected to the electrical grid strictly as a backup source for when they are unable to generate their own power. This has an added benefit in that many states allow you to sell your excess electricity to your utility provider during times when you are producing more power than you use.

There are several options available to generate your own electricity as well as the degree to which you can go off-grid. The choice you make should be tailored to what best fits your needs and circumstances. Solar is currently the most popular choice, but if your home gets little sunlight due to obstructions like buildings or tall trees, or you simply live in a place that is often overcast or rainy, that will be a factor. Another factor is the seasons….no matter how much sunlight your home gets, there will be much less in the winter than in the summer when the days are longer. That is compounded by the fact that your energy needs increase in winter when you typically need more to light and heat your home. A battery system can help by storing excess energy you generate for later use, but they tend to be expensive. The good news is that advancements in technology and production are bringing prices down on both batteries and solar panels. Also, there are tax credits available to help offset the cost of installing solar panels, but they aren’t likely to last forever so take advantage while you can!

A battery power storage system.

Stand-alone wind power tends to be less dependable and efficient for powering individual homes. However, it does have the benefit of being less expensive to purchase and install. If you live in the right place, wind might be a viable option as your primary off-grid power source, but more likely it is better as an option to augment a more reliable source of energy.

A generator is very reliable, as long you have fuel. But unless you are producing your own gasoline or diesel fuel, and I doubt you are, then you are ultimately dependent on others for your home’s electricity. And unless you have the space and money to stockpile large amounts of fuel, you’ll have to make a lot of trips to the gas station if a generator is your primary source of electricity. And what happens if the station is closed when you run out? Generators are great as a backup source of electricity, not so much as a primary. And if you do use a generator for a backup, store as much fuel as you can. Remember, you want to be prepared for a disaster too, and if one hits there’s no telling whether you’ll have access to more fuel, or how long it could be until you do.

Being on the grid for your backup electricity source is certainly more convenient, and probably cheaper than buying a generator. It’s reliable too, but intermittent outages due to downed power lines during inclement weather can be downright annoying and problematic. If a catastrophic disaster hits, the power grid can be down for days, weeks, maybe longer. Then what?

Okay, I know that’s a lot to consider. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all solution either. Each of you have you own circumstances that dictate the viability of how to go off-grid. To reiterate an earlier point, there is one thing each and every one of you can do that will help no matter what option you choose….Prepare and conserve! There are no obstacles or downsides to using only the minimum amount electricity you need. The better you learn to use less electricity when it is plentiful, the easier it will be for you when it is not.

WATER

Water is the most precious natural resource on our planet. All life depends on it, and we can only survive 3 days without it. Fortunately, water is all around us, we just need an efficient means of getting clean water into our homes. For most people in the US, water is piped to and from our homes through a public system. Like most public utilities, public water is usually reliable and convenient. However, when you are on a public water system you are also dependent and subject to things that are completely beyond your individual control. Costs for public water are on the rise, despite the fact that we are consuming less water because we more conscientious and efficient. Since most water systems are publicly owned and managed, costs and fees are occasionally subject to the special interests and whims of politicians. And don’t forget the horror of what happened in Flint, Michigan.

Fortunately, there are off-grid options for water just as their are for power. The most popular is a private well. As I mentioned above, water is all around us. Dig deep enough and you will find water below you. Installing a well for your home is best left to a professional, as it is very important for it to be done properly, or else harmful contaminants in the ground could leak into your water. There are also local regulations that must be followed. A professional can cost anywhere from several thousand dollars into the tens-of-thousands, depending on how deep you have to dig. The deeper you go, the purer the water is likely to be. It is also advisable to use a filtration system.

Of course getting water into your home is only half the equation. You need somewhere safe and sanitary for all the wastewater in your home to go, and if you are going off-grid that place is a septic system. A septic system is a large underground tank that collects and releases your wastewater. Bacteria in the tank break solid waste down causing it to naturally separate into layers. As new wastewater flows in, the liquid in the tank flows out into perforated pipes that release the water over distance into a drain field. The soil acts as a biological filter, keeping the harmful bacteria buried beneath the ground until it’s eventually absorbed as nutrients (and that’s another reason why you want a well drilled deep enough by a professional). Septic tanks should be emptied and serviced by a professional annually.

My cistern.

Obviously a private well and septic system may be either impractical or impossible for you, depending on your circumstances. Even if you can’t go entirely off-grid when it comes to water, just like with power you can still go partially off-grid and reduce some your costs and dependency on public utilities. The method I use at my home in Portland is harvesting rainwater. This is typically done by capturing the rain that falls and runs off of your home’s roof. Instead of channeling all that water from your gutters and into the ground or a storm drain, you capture and store it in a cistern (a large barrel) to be pumped into your home or anywhere else you need water (I primarily use my to water my garden and other outdoor needs). Cisterns can either be above ground or below ground, similar to a well. If you are going to capture rainwater, it is best to have a metal or clay-tiled roof. Shingled roofs tend to be much dirtier. You can also use the roof and gutters to capture rainwater that falls on other structures on your property, like a garage or shed. As with a well, filtering the water prior to consumption is strongly urged.

I do have a few words of caution if you are considering harvesting rainwater as your sole source of water for your home. First is the obvious….do you get enough rain to meet your needs? This method may only be effective if you live in an area that receives a decent amount of annual rainfall. If you live in an arid climate, you may not be able to capture enough water to use harvesting as your primary source. Second, if you live in an area with a lot of air pollutants, like close to a chemical plant or a busy highway, then it is probably best not to use rainwater, as those air pollutants also get into the rain. Finally, some states, local municipalities and homeowner’s associations have laws or restrictions prohibiting rainwater collection, even though the rain falls on your own property. It is best to research what the restrictions may be where you live prior to making your decision.

OTHER UTILITIES

Natural Gas

If you use natural gas in your home, then truly going off-grid could require a significant investment in new appliances or a big change to your lifestyle. You can switch from your natural gas provider over to propane without too much trouble or expense, but just like with a generator you are still reliant on fossil fuels that you have to buy from someone else. And just like gasoline or diesel, there’s no guarantee you will be able to acquire propane in an emergency. At best, you might save a little money from giving up the convenience of natural gas from the grid, but you haven’t really accomplished much else as far as becoming self-reliant.

This leaves you with two options: replace all your gas appliances with electric ones that use the electricity you generate, or find some other self-sufficient means to replace them. If you have the money for new appliances, great….and if your gas ones are in good condition you can always sell them to help offset the cost. If not, then I’d recommend starting off by trying to minimize your use of those appliances. This can help you gradually ween yourself off natural gas so it isn’t as big a shock if a disaster hits. How else can you heat your home if your furnace uses gas? If you have a fireplace or stove, that’s the obvious solution. Burning wood is dirtier than natural gas, but you can always find wood somewhere. Electric space heaters are another option. For cooking, you can build yourself a barbecue pit. Hang your laundry on a clothes line outside to dry whenever practical. You don’t necessarily have to go completely off-the-grid to be prepared.

Telephone

Unless you want to raise carrier pigeons or learn to use smoke signals, there aren’t really any options to immediately contact anyone if your cell phone and landline are out of service. If you have the money, you can purchase a satellite phone. You can get a FCC license to become a HAM, Amateur Radio license to transmit your messages.  The license gives access to all Amateur Radio frequencies above 30 megahertz, allowing the licensees the ability to communicate locally and most often within North America. It also allows for some limited privileges on the HF (also called “short wave”) bands used for international communications. There are also options that can work if you are fortunate to still have an internet connection, but not phone service. They include options like Google Voice.

Internet

Similar to your telephone, there aren’t any realistic off-grid options here. If you simply want to save some money, there are plenty of places were you can connect to a free wifi network if you are in a populated area. If giving up the convenience is worth it, or you just don’t go online much, then pull the plug (if you haven’t already). You can save hundreds of dollars a year that way. Either way, just know that if something happens and there is no electricity, and no phone service, you are very unlikely to have the internet available as well.

Cable TV

Why does anyone still have cable TV nowadays? It’s so expensive and so loaded with channels that you would probably never watch. It’s just a superfluous waste of money. If you have internet service at home, it really isn’t hard to find plenty of entertainment options online. You can purchase devices like a Roku or Amazon TV and connect to your television. These devices allow you to subscribe to individual services that stream entertainment over the internet. Through them you can get services Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO. Best of all, you pick the only the ones you want, and don’t pay a penny for what you don’t want.

Over-the-Air TV

If you have a TV, you can still watch it without cable if you live reasonably close to a city and use an antenna. This website can help you. There are a lot of channels you can still watch for free (Remember when TV was free?). Another benefit is that in the event of an emergency you might be able to get important information via the Emergency Broadcast System (assuming things aren’t so bad it’s been knocked offline or destroyed). For this same reason I highly recommend you keep a battery powered FM radio at home.

EARTH HOME

I am so happy to report that we will build a off-grid home called an Earthship! Earthships are a brilliant concept and the “holy grail” of going off-grid. 100% sustainable homes.  Earthships are more affordable to build because they are made primarily from “earth” and recycled materials. This might sound very primitive, but it is actually quite modern and does not lack the creature-comforts we have become accustomed to. Sustainable, off-grid living doesn’t have to mean living in a cave or a rustic shack. Just take a look at the possibilities for yourself.

Elaborate, isn’t it? The glass bottles are recycled and act as rebar for the concrete walls.

 

Fresh herbs and veggies, all year long!

Earthships are built with their own greenhouse, so you can grow fresh produce year-round. You can even have a pond to raise fish to eat.

Here’s how it works.

Earthships have a rain-harvesting system on the roof of the structure that funnels rainwater to a cistern. The water is used and re-used 4 times:

  1. Water is pumped from the cistern to sinks and showers.
  2. Then the ‘grey water’ from the sinks and showers is pumped to the greenhouse to water the plants.
  3. After being filtered by the plants, the water is pumped into the bathrooms for use in the toilets.
  4. Finally, the ‘black water’ is flushed outside to water the non-edible plants.

One of the more remarkable things about Earthships is their ability to maintain a stable and moderate temperature year-round. Whether in freezing temperatures or blistering heat, the Earthship consistently stays at around 70° Fahrenheit (22° Celsius).  That’s because the soil of the earth itself is one of the greatest insulators there is. During the day, solar heat is absorbed and stored in dirt-filled tires which make up the structure of the Earthship. The large greenhouse windows face south (or north if you happen to live in the Southern Hemisphere) to allow the sun to heat the interior throughout the day. Then at night when the sun goes down, the home stays warm because the thermal mass that warmed up during the day releases heat into home.

Yes, you really CAN grow in one of these during winter.

Solar panels and wind turbines provide the Earthship with all of the energy it needs year round. The cost to maintain the home is $100-$300 annually. There are no utility bills, I repeat, NO monthly utility bills. That’s music to my ears and money in my pocket. I love it for that reason alone.

Imagine never having to pay another utility bill!

Earthships are much cheaper than conventional houses. The Simple Survival model is the most basic Earthship, and costs about $7,000. The most luxurious models cost as much as $300,000 or more, depending on your style. I think this is the most sensible, economical and eco-friendly way to build a home. I’ll probably start Simple. Like any home, you can always add-on in the future!

A good portion of the Earthship is built with recycled materials like used tires filled with dirt. Once filled, each tire weighs 300 lbs.

Now THIS is a great way to recycle old tires.

 

NOT This!!!

Old and discarded tires are abundant. Some businesses will pay you to take old tires off their hands, or at least will simply give them to you. There’s no shortage of tires. This awful looking reef in Ft. Lauderdale’s (Disastrous Underwater Tire Reef) is proof.

During my visit to Earthship Biotecture, I realized that building an Earthship is within my reach. I’ll be documenting the journey to build in 2018, so stop by and check out the progress. It should be very interesting.

Urban Preparedness

The industrial revolutions have brought more and more people into urban environments. As a result, more and more people have become reliant on urban amenities that generations before us had to accomplish on their own. One of those, as covered in the previous section, are the utilities that provide us with the power and water we need. Another one is food. Acquiring the food we need typically means a trip to the grocery store, a place that is owned, operated, supplied by and profits someone else. We have become so dependent upon these stores that when the shelves are empty, like before or after a major weather event, it is big news and sends people into a panic.

The truth is that all these amenities are only as reliable as the system that provides them, and those systems do fail at times. Even if it is only one small part, the domino effect can have a very wide impact. But just because you live in a dense urban area does not mean you have to be totally dependent. In this section I will show you how you can still produce your own food, and other steps you can take to be self-reliant, even if you live in an apartment.

Urban Farming

Urban Farming is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city. Urban agriculture can also involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry, urban beekeeping, and horticulture. These activities occur in suburban areas as well, and may have different characteristics. Urban Farming is often thought of as being the same thing as Community Gardening, but they actually represent two different concepts. While both tend to occur in densely populated areas, that is where the similarities end. Urban Farming assumes a degree of commerce, the growing of products to be sold as opposed to being grown for personal consumption or sharing. In community gardening, there typically is no commercial activity.

As urban farms tend to be much smaller operations, due in large part to limited space, the food they produced is usually distributed in an area local to the farm itself. One of the most popular places the food is sold is at farmer’s markets, where consumers are able to purchase products directly from the farms. Some grocery stores also sell food from local farms, and they will typically advertise the items as such. Many restaurants will also purchase from local farms, and the farms often donate to local charities.

While buying your food from a local urban farm doesn’t exactly make you self-sufficient, there are still great benefits. Since the farm is in your local area, the food doesn’t have to travel great distances from where it is grown to where you buy it. Eliminating much of the transportation aspect means your food is often fresher once you buy it. Also you are helping the environment….buying tomatoes grown a few miles from you means there were less emissions from transport than buying tomatoes grown in the state bordering yours, or halfway across the country. Finally, you are supporting others who live and work in your own community with your business and dollars, and not some “Big Agriculture” conglomerate that primarily profits people who have nothing to do with actual farming. While Off-Grid & Urban promotes self-reliance, we are also big advocates of working together within your local community to help each other in being prepared for times of crisis. One way of doing that is to support your local small businesses.

Community Gardening

Community gardening is a garden on land that is shared by a group of people. They tend to be found in urban areas where individuals often do not have land of their own on which to farm. The land for a community garden can be either public or privately owned, and plots can be leased to an individual, a group, and sometimes even provided rent-free. As mentioned in the Urban Farming section, produce grown in community gardens tends to be for personal consumption rather than sold, though some gardeners may choose to sell what they grow. I haven’t yet found a website with a database of community gardens throughout the US, but if you simply Google “community gardens near me,” that should do the trick.

RAISING ANIMALS

There are a few farm animals that you can raise on a small property in an urban environment. They can provide you with your own source of meat and protein, if you have the stomach to slaughter them yourself, or get someone else to do it for you. But even of you don’t, there are still things that some animals can provide for you. Note that in many cases there are restrictions as to what type of livestock and how many you can have, and permits can be required as well, so be sure to research that ahead of time. In fact, you should really do lots of research on what you need to do to properly raise your animals too. A great way is to join a local club or Meetup group, so you can talk to other people with experience

Chickens are the most obvious and most popular choice of urban livestock. They are relatively quiet (the hens are, at least), and even if you don’t want to eat them they can produce all the eggs you’ll need. Plus, they can produce more chickens that you could sell yourself. Another bonus….chickens also create a nitrogen-heavy manure, which can make an excellent natural fertilizer when mixed into compost or soil.

Rabbits are very ideal for raising in a city. Their upkeep is relatively simple, and the upfront investment can be much more reasonable than larger animals: less fencing, smaller pens, less feed, cheaper breeding stocks. Moreover, many rabbits can be produced in a very small area….hundreds of rabbits a year in an average backyard if planned well. Although they can be used for fiber or breeding, their most beneficial product is often meat….but if you’re too intimidated to kill an animal that cute, they may not be for you (though they make nice pets too).

Bees present some challenges, but the rewards are often worth it. Not only can they produce lots of honey for you, but they will help you pollinate many of the flowering plants and trees you have. Best to start small, like a couple hives, and expand from there once you’re comfortable. You will also want to make sure you have a tall, wooden fence in your back yard so that the bees have to fly above people to get in and out of your yard….otherwise people can get stung much easier.

Fish can be just as easy to raise right in your own backyard as any other plant or animal. You don’t need to dig your own pond. An above-ground swimming pool will actually do the trick. Tilapia, Bass, Catfish….lots of different varieties you can have. And if you like, you can try to catch them the old-fashioned way, with a rod and reel. Fish are the healthiest meat and a great source of protein, so I highly recommend it.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

The nature of an emergency is that you rarely know it’s coming far ahead enough to start preparing. That’s why you need to be in a state of constant readiness. This in no way means living your life on edge just waiting for disaster to strike. Being prepared is as simple as having a plan and a supply of essential, life-sustaining items that are easily accessible in times of need. This section is devoted to helping you identify the things you may need and want to have ready. It is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Depending on where you are you may face different threats or have different needs. Hopefully, this can help you get started and you are able to give yourself peace of mind that you can survive and overcome whatever may happen.

Get Home Bag

The Get Home Bag (GHB), also known as an Everyday Carry Bag (EDC), is a backpack that is filled with survival gear and personal items that you carry with you every day. The GHB can be a tactical backpack or any easy-to-carry bag. The GHB should be a good quality bag to store items you will need to get you home during a crisis.

I think it is very important for everyone to create their own GHB, because you are the only person who knows what you will need in it. It is custom packed by you, the person who carries it. Our environments are different. We live in different areas of the world and we each have our special needs and wants. For instance, my commute to work is in the city so my bag would be packed differently then someone in a rural area. So pack your GHB for your needs and environment. Choose a bag that suits you and start fillng it with your lifesaving items.

I do have a few suggestions that you can use for consideration or a base to help get you started on your GHB.

Shelter:

This is very important, especially in cold climates. If you have a long way to travel after a disaster you will be glad you have equipment and supplies to build a shelter to hunker down somewhere and rest overnight.

  • A simple Space blanket or a Bivy Sack depending on where you live. Either way, both will protect you from wind and cold.
  • A Poncho – can be used to make a lean-to shelter and protect you from the wind and rain. It is always good to have extras.
  • 550 Paracord – will help with building your shelter and much more. I will post a page on Emergency uses for Paracord in the future.
  • Duct tape will help repair anything.

Food and Water:

  1. Pack emergency food bars or freeze dryer food.
  2. Water bladder.
  3. Include water purification tablets.
  4. A Stainless Steel Canteen.
  5. Utensils and can opener.
  6. Snare wire to help you catch a protein meal.
  7. A Yo-Yo fishing reel to catch some fish.
  8. Compass, so you don’t get lost.

First Aid:

  • Include a basic pocket-sized first aid kit. There are several soft bag first aid kits, or you can put your own kit together. If you are putting your own first aid kit together, first think of your needs and how big a kit you can fit in your GHB.
  • An Altoids tin can be used to store Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, a couple of pain pills, aspirin or ibuprofen and still may have a little room to spare for something else.

Lighting:

  • You will need a good LED flashlight. I like being hands free so I use a headlamp. The A LED Headlight iZEEKER 6000 Lumens 18650 is super bright. Headlamps are a good choice and they are handy when you need your hands free to work on something in the dark.
  • Don’t forget extra batteries.
  • A couple of 12 hr light sticks will be another smart addition to your kit. Also, check out your local stores around Halloween for the fluorescent bracelets. They will make a good substitute and they are cheap.

Fire Starter:

  • Always, always have various ways to start a fire. Many people use lighters (stock up and pack more than one in a waterproof bag). But lighters eventually run out of fuel. Pack extra fire-starting items just in case like, waterproof matches or a Ferro Rod.

Communication:

  • Obviously, your cell phone. Even though you may not be able to make a call, a text message or email may get through to someone.
  • Depending on how important communication is to you, you can get a FCC Amateur Radio HAM or GMRS license. If not, walkie-talkies should be fine. Just do some research on the items before you purchase.
  • Keep in mind that you can find some of these items as an all-in-one. Like the Kaito VoyagerA Digital Solar Panel, Wind Up, Cranking AM/FM/LW/SW & NOAA Weather Emergency Radio with Flashlight, Reading Lamp, Smart Phone Charger & RDS and Real-Time Alert, with AC Adapter. 

Cash:

  • If the power goes out, the credit card machines won’t work. Neither will ATMs. So, I suggest setting aside some cash in small bills.
  • If you really want to be ready for a SHTF scenario, have a small stash of pre-1965 US silver coins in your bag. The dimes, quarters, and half-dollars minted in the USA before 1965 are 90% silver and should be very valuable if paper money loses its value. Contact a coin broker to purchase silver or gold.

Knife and/or Multi-tool:

  • I like to have both a survival knife and a multi-tool because some jobs need a bigger blade and others just need the tools.

This should get you started on building your Get Home bag now. Don’t wait! Customize it to your needs because what you put in your bag could save your life.

FOOD

In the event of an emergency, having food storage in your home is very essential to survival and easy to get started. Start with the basics. The following steps can help you and your family prepare in the event of a disaster or emergency.

Prepare an Emergency Food Supply

When preparing for a catastrophic disaster of any kind, you may need food that will last you and your family for years not days so keep the following things in mind when storing foods:

  • Purchase foods with long shelf/storage life.  Overtime, foods lose their nutritional value, become rancid, and deadly if you do not store it correctly. So you must know how to store each food item properly for it to last.
  • Choose foods that require little or no cooking, water, or refrigeration, in case the lights go out.
  • Be sure to meet the needs of babies, the elderly or others on special diets.
  • Don’t forget your pets’ needs, and
  • Choose foods that are not salty or spicy. Salty foods and spices will increase the need to drink water.
Foods with Long Shelf Life

Store your food for long shelf life in a place where it will resist heat, moisture, oxygen, and light. Some foods have long shelf life if packaged and stored properly. You can purchase bulk foods from your local grocery store for low cost and repackage the food. If stored properly the following food will last a very long time, Years.

Wheat – 30
White Rice – 30
Corn – 30
Sugar – 30
Pinto Beans – 30
Rolled Oats – 30
Pasta – 30
Potato Flakes – 30
Apple Slices – 30
Dehydrated Carrots – 20
Non-fat Powdered Milk – 20
Recommended Containers for Longer-Term Storage
  • #10 cans
  • Foil pouches or Mylar bags
  • PETE bottles (for dry products such as wheat, corn, and beans)

These containers, used with oxygen absorber packets, eliminate food-borne insects and help preserve nutritional quality and taste.  You can also use plastic buckets for longer-term storage of wheat, dry beans, and other dry products.

Warning:  The food must be dry before storing (10% or less moisture content). Store foods in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers to avoid becoming sick. Botulism poisoning may result if moist products are stored in packaging that reduces oxygen.

Storage Conditions

Storage life can be significantly impacted by the following:

  • Temperature: Store products at a temperature of 60°F or lower whenever possible. If storage temperatures are higher, rotate products as needed to maintain quality.
  • Moisture: Keep storage areas dry. It is best to keep containers off of the floor to allow for air circulation.
  • Light: Protect cooking oil and products stored in PETE bottles from light.
  • Insects and rodents: Protect products stored in foil pouches and PETE bottles from rodent and insect damage.

Warning:  The food must be dry before storing (10% or less moisture content). Store foods in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers to avoid becoming sick. Botulism poisoning may result if moist products are stored in packaging that reduces oxygen.

Foods NOT Suitable for Long-term Storage

Here are a short list of items that are not suitable for longer-term storage because of the moisture content, oils, etc.

Pearled Barley
Dried Eggs
Granola
Nuts
Brown Rice
Brown Sugar
How To Store Emergency Food
  • A disaster can easily disrupt the food supply at any moment, so have at least a 3-day to 1 week supply of food on hand.
  • When storing food, it is not necessary to buy dehydrated or other types of emergency food but it is helpful.  I, myself, dehydrate my own foods like apples, herbs, mushrooms, ginger, peppers, etc. Canned foods and dry mixes will remain fresh for about 2 years or longer depending on if you stored it properly.
  • Certain storage conditions can enhance the shelf life of canned or dried foods so store it in a location that is cool, dry, and dark. The best temperature is 40 to 60°F. Keep foods away from stoves or refrigerator exhausts. The heat will cause the foods to spoil quickly.
  • Keep food away from petroleum products, such as gasoline, oil, paints, and solvents because some food products will absorb the smell.
  • Protect food from rodents and insects. Items stored in boxes or in paper cartons can be eaten by the rodents and insects. It’s best to put the food in airtight containers.  The best storage containers to use to protect your food are glass containers because rodents can not eat through it.
  • Date all food and use or replace it before loss of freshness.
  • Alway be sure to store the food in food grade containers.  Go to the Water page for more information on FOOD-GRADE PLASTIC SYMBOLS to determine if the container is safe for food storage.
Preparing Food

Preparing food after a disaster or emergency may be difficult due to damage to your home, loss of electricity, gas, and water. Here is a short (obvious) list of items to help you prepare your meals:

  • Cooking utensils,
  • Knives, forks, and spoons,
  • Paper plates, cups, and paper towels,
  • A manual can and bottle-opener,
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil,
  • Storage containers
  • Gas or charcoal grill; camp stove, and
  • Fuel for cooking, such as propane or charcoal. (CAUTION: Never burn charcoal indoors. The fumes are deadly when concentrated indoors.)
Where to locate Food

When you are short on cash and can’t purchase food, go online to search for your local Food Bank its there where you will find a pantry near you.  I would suggest that you start volunteering at a pantry because it will benefit you in the long run.  Join a CSA group Community Supported Agriculture in your neighborhood and/or visit your local farm. Also, walk your neighborhood to locate fruit and nut trees to harvest.

Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Food

During a disaster, foraging for food, hunting or trapping a meal can be time consuming.  But if you have Thrive Life, dehydrated and freeze-dried food in your kit, it can make your situation much better.  Thrive Life food is lightweight which means you can carry a lot more food than you would if it were canned food.  Think about all of the different types of meals you could have when away from home. If you are preparing for extreme winter storms or man-made disasters, I strongly recommend that you stock your pantry with Thrive Life food.  Dehydrated and freeze dried foods are the way to go.  Take a look and shop for dehydrated and freeze dried food by clicking the image below.

 

Fill your Pantry with Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Foods

Click to see more.

 

It’s Life Insurance

WATER

Back in the day, we were able to drink water straight from springs, rivers, municipal fountains and within our homes without getting sick or have to boil the water. But today, we are experiencing contaminated water in our cities. Think about Flint, Michigan. Many people fell sick due to bad water from their home faucets.  Water is the most important item we need to survive because we can only survive 3 days without it.  So store water.

Storing water safely

The best source of drinking water during an emergency is water you have stored with your emergency supplies.

  • Store one gallon of water per person per day–enough for at least 1 week.
  • Store-bought, factory-sealed bottled water is best when placed in a dark cool place.
  • If you choose to fill your own water containers:
    • Collect the water from a safe water supply.
    • Store water in thoroughly washed plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
    • Seal water containers tightly, label with date, and store in a cool, dark place.
    • They say we should replace the water every six months. But, use your own judgement on this. If that was the only water you had, would you pour it out or would you purify it, again and drink it? Think about it!
    • Never reuse a container that held toxic substances such as pesticides, chemicals or oil.

Note: It is recommend that pregnant women, people with an active thyroid problem, or those allergic to iodine should not use iodine to purify water.

 

Here are 3 ways to purify water.

#1. Purify by boiling water

Water boiling in glass panIf tap water is unavailable,the following may be considered as potential water sources. Water taken from these sources should be boiled before drinking.

  • Rainwater
  • Lakes
  • Rivers and streams
  • Natural springs
  • Ponds

Caution: Many chemical pollutants will not be removed by boiling.

Water being poured through a filter/

  • Consider how the water looks and how to filter it if needed.  Cloudy water should always be filtered. Disinfection does not work as well when water is cloudy or colored. If water is cloudy, let it settle. Then filter the water through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter. Store the settled and filtered water in clean containers with covers.
  • Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least three full minutes.
  • Let the water cool before drinking.

 

#2  Purifying water by adding liquid chlorine bleach

A bottle of bleach

  • Treat water by adding liquid household bleach, such as Clorox or Purex.
  • Household bleach is typically between 5.25 percent and 8.25 percent chlorine. Read the label.
  • Avoid using bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives. Again, read the label.
  • Cloudy water should be filtered before adding bleach.
  • Place the water in a clean container. Add the amount of bleach according to the table below.
  • Mix thoroughly and let stand for at least 60 minutes before drinking.

 

Treating water with household bleach containing 5.25-8.25 percent chlorine

Caution: Bleach will not kill some disease-causing organisms commonly found in surface water and it will not remove chemical pollutants.

#3.  Purifying with Water Purification Tablets

Water purification tablets are located at any hardware or outdoor sport goods store.

How to use it: Most importantly, follow the water purification tablet instructions, they may vary, but generally you simply add the tablets to the water, then wait for a specified time before drinking. A pill-sized tab usually will filter one liter of water and may require you to wait thirty five-minutes before drinking. Check the directions on the type of tablet you have before using this method. Also, keep in mind that cold water temperatures may require longer wait times.  If you fail to pack water purification tablets in your emergency gear, you simply won’t be able to use the method above. However, if you do have them with you, they’re cheap, light, and effective. Remember, tablets have a shelf life so make sure to check purchase dates, and replace them as needed.

  • Can’t find water? Look for other sources of water in and around your home. Although bottled water is your best choice, you may be able to find other sources of water by melting ice cubes or draining your hot water tank or pipes. You should not use water from toilet flush tanks or bowls, radiators, waterbeds, swimming pools, or spas. You can also use river or lake water. It is generally better to use flowing water than still, stagnant water. However, do not use water with floating material in it or water that has a dark color or questionable odor.
  • If you have a well on your property that has been flooded, make sure to disinfect and test the well water after the flood. Contact your state or local health department for advice or review “What to do With Your Private Well After a Flood” document.

Information above from:  www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/BePreparedBeSafe/SevereWeatherandNaturalDisasters/WaterPurification

Also consider carrying a portable water filter, like the LifeStraw, in addition to one of the above methods. Water is your most important survival resource that will save your life. You can not live without it . You can only survive 3 days without clean, drinkable water. Practice and prepare now, you’ll be glad you did.  Here’s information on food-grade plastic container symbols.

FOOD-GRADE PLASTIC SYMBOLS

There are several types of plastics – some being safer than others. Plastic products are marked with a number enclosed by the recycling symbol, which is found on the bottom of the product. This symbol is used to identify the plastic and recycle ability of the product.

Image result for fda food grade plastic symbols
Symbols 1 – Use Caution
Symbols 3, 6 & 7 – Steer clear and avoid
Symbols 2, 4 & 5 – Safest choice

Remember, this is not rocket science. After reading this post, order and purchase good grade water containers and start saving water today.  If you pace yourself while preparing and do a little at a time, you will not be overwhelmed. This post should give you a good start and you will have somethings set aside just in case something does happen.

Other languages (All files are PDF.)

Free Survival Apps

One of the first things I would want to do if I were caught in a disaster is make sure that I am in contact with my family. In my research, I found apps that I think could be used as survival apps during a disaster. As I find more, I will add them to this list so check back here for updates. Also, search for apps that are particular to your local your area, they could be very helpful. Practice using the apps now, before a disaster happens, so you will know how to use them during a disaster.

 

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In Case of Emergency allows easy access to vital ICE (in case of emergency) information, in times of emergency. (Android | iOS)

 

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Zello turns your phone or tablet into a walkie-talkie with this free PTT (Push To Talk) radio app, which works between Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, and PC. (Android | iOS)

 

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The Army Survival Guide is completely based on the U.S. Military Survival Manual FM 21-76. This field manual is a complete reference guide on basic survival, evasion, first aid and recovery information. (Android | iOS)

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The Bug Out Bag Survival Guide app walks you through the process, keeps track of what is in your bag, and reminds you when items need to be replaced. (Android only)

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First Aid – Accidents happen. The official American Red Cross First Aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. (Android | iOS)

 

 

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Cures A-Z – Comprehensive Medicine combines the best of natural and prescription therapies to create optimal health. (Android | iOS)

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Disaster Alert provides a listing and interactive map of Active Hazards occurring around the globe. (Android | iOS)

 

 

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FEMA’s Disaster Readiness app is your one-stop-shop with tools and tips to keep you safe before, during, and after disasters. (Android | iOS)

 

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EMS Pocket Drug Guide is the first EMS pocket drug guide that contains the detailed information typically found only in much larger reference books. (Android | iOS)

 

 

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onX GPS Hunting can turn your phone into a fully functioning GPS. View private and public land ownership, hunting units, roads and trails, and much more! Turn your phone into a free GPS with offline maps, tracking, and more! (Android | iOS)

 

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US Topo Map is an easy to use outdoor navigation app with free access to the best topographic maps and aerial images for the USA. (Android | iOS)

 

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Fishing Knots is a personal pocket helper tool, that explains how to bind the most important fishing knots. (Android | iOS)

 

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Google Earth enables you to explore the globe with a swipe of your finger. (Android | iOS)

 

 

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iTriage Health was created by two emergency room physicians to help people answer health questions such as “What do I have?” and “Where do I go?” (Android | iOS)

 

 

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Pet First Aid – Don’t forget about your fur babies. Take care of your furry family member. The American Red Cross Pet First Aid app puts veterinary advice for everyday emergencies in the palm of your hand. (Android | iOS)

 

 

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With the American Heart Association (AHA) eBook Reader you can read all your AHA eBooks online, offline or anytime on your mobile device. (Android | iOS)

 

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Grocery iQ makes shopping quick and easy with the features you expect from the #1 grocery shopping list app. (Android | iOS)

 

 

 

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With Scanner Radio you can listen to live audio from over 5,000 police scanners. It even lets you sort the scanners by distance from your location. (Android | iOS)

 

 

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With ViewRanger GPS you can discover thousands of inspiring trail guides, download detailed topo maps, and navigate your outdoor adventures with ViewRanger’s integrated navigation system. (Android | iOS)

 

 

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The Weather Channel allows you to make confident decisions based on the world’s most downloaded weather app. (Android | iOS)

 

 

 

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WebMD helps you with your decision-making and health improvement efforts by providing mobile access 24/7 to mobile-optimized health information and decision-support tools. (Android | iOS)

 

 

 

Finally, it should be noted that after a disaster, your phone may not work following a disaster. But, if your phone is charged, FireChat will get the message out. It has been used during natural disasters and they say it works. (Android | iOS)

 

 

OFF GRID & URBAN PREPAREDNESS

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Emergency Kits

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Purchase survival kits and supplies from Off Grid & Urban! We have many options available depending on want you think you may need. The list below is a good cross-section of our offering, and we will be adding more products over time.  If you see what you need please e-mail you order to us.  If you don’t see what you are looking for, we’ll help you find it. We look forward to assisting you with your preparedness/survival needs.