Last Minute Survival Primer...
Okay, you just awakened to the seriousness of the moment. The negative business news is not diminishing, What can you do to get ready??? If you can stay Dry, Warm, Hydrated, Fed, and Safe; then you have a chance to weather the storm
Got Food? That is probably the #1 concern; at least once you have some weaponry and ammunition to insure a means of self-defense and hunting.
Water is pretty easy. You store it from the tap, buy a decent filtering device, and stock some plain hypochlorite bleach, like chlorox, unscented etc. You can catch runoff water from rooflines if you position a garbage can or large container. A contractor type garbage bag as a liner will save time and assure no contamination from prior contents. Don't want to drink water from a composition or tar/gravel roof, but the water can be used for outdoor cleaning and flushing toilets etc. You want all the sources you can get. Maybe keep a few towels to prefilter dirty water or lake/pond water. The more you pre-filter the water you plan to drink the longer your filter unit will last. I like MSR Waterworks personal filters since they mate up to Nalgene bottles and MSR Dromedary bags (like camelback but more durable), and I like the Katadyn Expedition drip filter with internal candle/filters as it uses no power and holds 3gal of filtered water in its reservoir.
Water??? What can you store it in?Any empty plastic bottle that held food or beverages is good for drinking. Tap water from the city is likely chlorinated so should store for a long time w/o organisms growing. Keep out of the sun. If you have a pool or cistern, you are way ahead of the rest of us. Got plastic trash cans? Ice chest, rubbermaid totes??? Any thing that will hold water. Bath tub if your drain don't leak.
Gonna want as much water as you can get, unless you have a well or a lake on your premises.
Food is the biggie. Whole grains store best. Flour will last for maybe 6 mos to a year depending on climate, humidity, and temperture. Better to grind hard red Winter Wheat or Golden/White wheat for flour and get all the nutrients possible. Best sources are Organic grain farmers or distributors. Organics are better because they promote better health and preserve/build your immune system. Probably need about 250lbs for a family of 4 for one year if you eat a lot of bread; and who won't?
Basic grains: Wheat, Brown Rice, Oats, Corn, Barley, Millet, Quinoa. Also like Farina/Malt0meal, Grits, cracked wheat cereal and maybe Rye seed. Hand grinder will be very labor intensive, electric is better. I can grind a 5gal bucket of HRW (hard red winterwheat) in about 30 min with our kel-Tec electric grain mill. Takes a long time to do this with a Corona, but we have one anyway. Also want Beans and Legumes like lentils/black-eyed peas etc. These go great with Brown Rice and make a complete protein. Pinto, Kidney, Sm Red Beans, Black Beans, Adzuki, Anasazi and soy/black soy are a good assortment. These come packed in 25lb bulk bags. We always bought organics from healthfood dealers and got a 10-20% discount by buying in bulk.
Costco and grocers that sell institutional pack items are a good resource. 2lbs of bread yeast will cost about $3.50. Stores for a longtime. Buy in bulk everytime you can.
Canned goods are great for longterm storage. Peanut butter also, jelies, honey, sugars, fruits dried and in syrup. You want lots of vegetables. Frozen is next best to fresh, but canned will be great to have. Canned tomatoes and pasta can serve many uses. Canned meats, stews, chicken etc will give you many uses; and they are very portable and need no refrigeration. Don't want them to freeze though...
Powdered milk is a good thing. Try Milkman brand. Or if you have children or allergy issues, try RiceMilk. Sorta pricey, but stores pretty well, good right out of the carton and very nutritious. Cereals are also worth stocking up. We like natural and nonsweetened stuff like corn flake and chex cereals etc. Oatmeal and Farina you already have from your whole grains. Make your own granola, great snack, great breakfast.
The large Excalibur dehydrator is a super tool to have in your kitchen. Make yogurt, granola, fruit leathers, jerky and anything else you can conceive of with a low heat, thermostat controlled 9 tray machine. Find a good deal on rump roasts you can make jerky way cheaper than buying it.
Another great tool is a 6qt or larger pressur cooker, maybe a pressur canner. Pressure cooking cooks faster and preserves nutrients. Also, Cast Iron Cookware infuses Iron into your meals; a good thing (unless foreign made in some 3rd world foundry where the casting might involve toxic matter). A Dutch Oven with integral cast tripod legs and a matching cast iron lid is a Great tool for outdoor living/cooking. Skillets and griddles etc also are durable and easy to care for.
Face it, you might have to be mobile. Not going to get much cooking done on backpacking aluminum stuff. Cast Iron is the way to go when you can. Seasonings. Stock up on what you use all the time. Pepper, Sea Salt, Basil, other stuff, baking powder and soda.
Food and water. A waterbed mattress makes a pretty good way to store several hundred gallons of water. Also, an above ground pool works really well and is pretty cheap. All you need is some sand to install one. Takes a few hours to put one up and then all night to fill it.
Need something to cook on don't you? The coleman and century type double burner propane camp stoves are very nice. You can adapt these to run from 5gal propane bottles like your outdoor grille might have. Charcoal grilling is not a bad idea. A good cast iron hibachi is also pretty versatile. Don't forget matches and lighters. A zippo lighter and a butane lighter are pretty useful items to have nearby in your kitchen.
Got a decent set of cutlery? Chef's knife, filet knife, carving knife and steel? Worth having for sure. An 8-10" Chef's knife is as versatile as an expensive Bowie in the field. Be sure your knives are full tang and are easy to sharpen. Serrated edges take special files or sharpening tools. A good arkansas stone or diamond hone will help keep your knives cutting with precision and enhance your safety when using them. Probably benefit from a couple of good spatulas and large spoons. If you have a Restaurant Supply house in your town, pay them a visit. Nice to have some large kettles and quality baking sheets etc. Try Volrath stuff, esp their stainless steel cookware. Your restaruant supply place will have quality cutlery and all sorts of storage containers you might not find anywhere else.
Got a propane cookstove at your house? If it is a fairly modern stove, you might not be able to get it to light in a power outage situation. Check on this and be sure. Maybe you need a 12v inverter and a battery to use your auto ignition cookstove???
Good durable clothing and outerwear are high on the list. Underwear and socks for comfort. Good shoes and boots. Probably some longunderwear. Sleeping bags, tarps, rope, tent(s), backpacks or other nylong luggage, duffel bages.
Probably benefit from having some clothespins and clothesline. A plumbers plunger in a 5gal paint bucket w/lid makes a crude washing machine. Maybe you have enough battery and inverter to run your washing machine? Super, but if not... For sure you want as many extra clothes to minimize need to do laundry.
The BIGGEST ASSET YOU MIGHT FIND IS THE THRIFT/RESALE SHOPS IN YOUR TOWN. Visit them all. Buy spare clothes there. Probably find some very good stuff and gear. You're likely supporting a charity if you spend at a resale. If you need tools, gear, equipment; try your local PawnShops. Best thing about pawnbrokers is people often pawn items they never used for quick cash. The dealer always needs cash to make new loans. Not that their 15% interest per mo isn't robbery, but if you offer 1/3 less than the ask-price on an item and tell the guy you'll pay in cash; you'll likely get your deal. If not, buy where you can get a deal.
Your Libray is also a resource. Cookbooks, how-tos for carpentry, auto repair, survival, first aid, plumbing etc etc. Look there first and if you can't find what you need, ask about Inter-Library Loan. Librarian probably can get you the book. You can find some good resources at the resale shop too. Who can beat paperbacks for .25/.50 ea? Probably gonna have lots of time for reading. Textbooks and professional references can be found cheap at resales. Machinst handbooks, PDR drug references, Engineering handbooks as well as fine art and other great non-fiction reads abound there. Might find a decent set of encyclopedias... If you like used book stores, another resource, resale/thrifts are way better on price...
Obviously, you've got a computer. Torrent downloads are out there for many survivalist books and resources. Also there are resources for downloading non-copyrighted public domain books and other open resource music, film, video etc. You-Tube also has many survival videos and site links. Be sure to back up your data on portable media like CD or DVD. I no longer am motivated to spend 2-3 hrs weekly to keep up with computing advances, so likely am behind the times. With compression and archiving software, you can store lots more than 4.5 gigs on a DVD. Buy quality media like TDK or Sony on sale and try not to spend all your time downloading.
One of the best survival books you will ever find is Cresson Kearny's NUCLEAR WAR SURVIVAL SKILLS. There are free downloads on the net, but try ki4u.com.
Regarding Guns/Weapons for self-defense and hunting...
My premise is that a rifle is your best all around weapon, and that you can hunt with a semi-auto like an AR-15 or AR-10, but you won't ever be able to fire 15-30rds from a bolt-action or lever action rifle should the need arise....
Same way with a handgun. You can hunt with a .45acp pistol, but nothing else is as developed for self-defense purposes. A .22lr pistol is also a great tool to have. If you can shoot at all, the handgun is more versatile than a .22 rifle; but maybe you can have both?
I am not much on shotguns. A .45acp is more concealable and versatile for self-defense; a rifle has more range and power beyond 25yds. The pistol is faster to bring into action, the rifle more accurate.
A .177cal pellet gun would be very useful around your home for taking small birds, rodents, and maybe squirrels and rabbits. You want to kill any wild dogs that you encounter. A dog pack could be a life/death encounter. A 20 or 30rd magazine in a rifle, and a .45acp with a couple spare magazines might give you a chance in surviving a dogpack encounter.
To minimize your need to defend yourself inside your home, you need to do all you can to secure your doors and windows from a surprise entry. You can brace your doors, making fast entry impossible and install wire mesh over your window frames, making a bust-in entry impossible. You for sure want to remove any landscaping from near your house to reduce fire threat and hiding places from one who would break-in. A small dog or large inside your home is a VERY Good Thing! Dog should bark and alert you to anyone outside your home.
If you live in a state where you cannot own what is termed an "assault weapon", the next best thing is a Marlin lever action model 1894 in .44magnum. The .44magnum is very hard hitting and easy to control in a rifle. The Marlin 1894 holds about 9 cartridges and is very fast to operate. You can put a scope sight on the 1894 and so equipped it can be accurate out to about 150yds.
Your vehicle may be a very key component in your survival. Make sure it is serviced and ready to meet any challenges you may need it to surmount. Got good tires? Is your spare okay and aired up?
Change your oil and spark plugs, all filters and fluids. Few people ever change their auto transmission fluid. Do it if you haven't had this done in the past 3yrs or so. How is your radiator fluid and battery? Carry some spare engine oil and brake fluid along with a drive/serpentine belt and wrench to tension the belt. Got windshield cleaner filled up? How about new wiper blades?
Know your vehicles gross carry weight, know the ply rating of your tires, also called load range. Are your shock absorbers okay??? Headlights? Maybe you want to be able to remove your tail lamps, or black them out with covering and duct tape?
You probably don't need four Wheel drive. A set of Winter Tire Chains for your drive wheels will take you anywhere as long as you don't get high centered or flooded out. Great for going through mud. Just take it slow and steady. If you have 4wd, do you know how to really use it? Got appropriate tires or highway tires with no real lug pattern?
Got a tow hitch but no trailer? I you have a Receiver Hitch, you can buy a 6'x28" carry shelf that slides into the receiver and gives you about 500lbs of extra carry capacity. Remember your load rating and to air up your tires to max pressure if carrying a max load. These are great tools to have. If you don't have a roof luggage rack, you can tie gear up there, or maybe buy a strap-on luggage rack that will carry bulky lightweight items. I have had these, and they do work.
If you have to get outa dodge, you should be sure of your vehicle and how you're gonna carry everything you plan to.
Got an indoor fireplace? Maybe even just one for "looks" that has only a natural gas fed burner? Well, you do have a place to cook if the gas svc stays on. Cast Iron cookware will work fine on/in your hearth. That is how cooking used to be done, put the pots in/over the fire heat source.
Might want to google up "hobo stoves". Pretty easy to make a cooker from a coffee can or #10 can and use twigs or wood chips/charcoal to power it. Don't throw your big empty cans away; use em for something.
Funnels and buckets will be very useful items to have. Maybe you want a decent siphon hose to scavenge fuel? Buy some PRI D to restore old diesel fuel, and PRI-G to restore old/stale gasoline. This is the stuff that works when the Sta-Bil fuel has gone bad. I have also added a couple bottles of carburetor cleaner and Octane Booster to a premium fueled vehicle that hadn't been driven in many months and had that work fine to restore old gas. Might try Acetone also, add about 2.75oz per 10gals.
Haven't really touched on the staying warm/dry part yet. Rain and wind can kill you. Hypothermia and pneumonia are nothing to risk. In cold climates, you really need the best clothing you can find. Layering works, use polar fleece instead of cotton. A windbreaker or goretex parka really extends your comfort range when worn over at polarfleece or wool sweater. I like duofold cotton/wool long underwear but polypropylene synthetic will really keep you warm even when soaking wet in a frozen swamp. Having good Merino Wool socks also helps. Down clothing is superb in dry climates. Wool is beautiful stuff, but very expensive. I have found lots of great Woolrich and Pendleton shirts at resale shops for under $5. Gloves and mittens for sure.
Even if you are Down South, having outerwear you can layer gives you the edge if you must take to the woods. Rubber pac boots or those LL Bean Maine Guide boots w/o liners are great for Winter wear when the rain/dew has everything outside soaked fully. I have treated my hiking boots for 30yrs with Snow Seal, it works superbly and preserves leather with excellence. Gotta love ski masks and poly glove liners when it is really cold. Ever ride a motorcycle in Winter? You learn what works. Anything that keeps the cold from penetrating will work. You can layer-in dry newspaper or grasses and stay warm if caught with only a light jacket.
For outdoor living, a tent is really a great thing. You want one with a floor, if considering something for backpacking. Being out of the damp or wet aids you greatly. Carrying a small tarp that you can put down under your tent floor insulates you even better and preserves your tent floor from rips, tearing etc. If you pile dried grass etc under the tarp, even better.
A tarp on its own is wonderful. With some rope and a few cut limbs etc you can frame it into a tent or windbreak. The old Baker Tent which was a wedge design, open in front pitched to gather warmth from a fire with reflector logs etc, is really adaptable from a large tarp. Could probably sew one yourself from 2 or 3 tarps if so inclined. The TIPI is also a great portable home you can rig with 8-12 long sappling timbers, some rope and a few tarps of various sizes to wrap around the sappling tripod frame.
Got a Bug-Out Location, but no dwelling erected yet? Best value for the money are surplus USGI tents with liner for Winter use and tentstove/heater stovepipe vents. Erect your tent on a plywood platform that's insulated and you have a very viable and comfortable home that is quick to move and relatively easy to setup. Yurts are also great; just cost more money. Barrelstove for heating, shepherd's stove for cooking with water jacket, warming rack and all the extras would make for a very good shelter, even in Arctic conditions. Got an ATV w/trailer? Pretty easy to transport up to a 8x32 USGI tent deep into the wilderness as long as you can cut small timbers for tent poles. A USGI 10man Arctic tent could be transported by backpack. Need a freighter-frame pack for sure, but they weigh about 70lbs and are fairly compact. One guy carries the tent, another the liner and collapsing centerpole. Shepherd's stove weighs about 10lbs.
Plastic tarps are really a great item to have. The really huge ones can cover your roof if you get leakage, or almost any size vehicle or even a haystack. If you are without a sleeping bag, a blanket roll with a small 8x8ft tarp to wrap up in will work very well. Having a couple dozen diaper or bigger safety pins will enable your bedroll to remain intact around you. You can take a carpet or craft needle and some dental floss and sew your tarp into a homemade bivy sack. Carry your bedroll rolled width ways and bend it around your shoulders or backpack.
Backpacks and daypacks are very versatile for their organizing and load carrying capability. The older frame style CampTrails & Kelty backpacks are superb. ALICE mil-surp packrigs will work, but are heavy and not too comfortable. Look at the aluminum frame and belt/shoulder straps on your external frame backpack. You want good suspension gear. Maybe you find your stuff at the pawn or thriftshop, you can mix & match. Easy to remove the retention devices and swap components to make a great frame unit. Nothing wrong with having a few backpacks. The Medium ALICE pack without frame, but with added shoulder straps makes a great dayhiking/patrolling sack. As many decent condition packs as you can find, you will have use for. The large ALICE sack on a Camptrails or Kelty frame is also a way to go. The more recent MOLLE USGI backpacks are really excellent and worth paying more money for. Never know what you might find on Ebay, at the pawnshop, or thift. I got a new MOLLE pack for $15 at the resale a few years back. If you don't go, you can't find the deals...
Quality outdoor wear and gear is also useful around the house. Can't really say the same about city wear in the country or mountains. A down sleeping bag makes a pretty decent comforter when unzipped and spread out over your bed. Point is, having survival gear can benefit you in town until you need it vitally out of doors.
A great way to organize your stuff is to think in terms of kts. First Aid kit, fire making kit, sewing kit, hygeine kit, food processing kit, tool kits. Tackle or tool boxes, day packs, even gal or 2gal ziploc bags are great for organizing your kits. Kids' large pencil bags are great for small items, esp if they are nylon and not plastic. Rubbermaid or Tupperware bread boxes and containers of all sizes are great organizers. If you want to keep maps, lists, and other documents for a longtime, consider having them laminated. Maps store best when rolled rather than folded.
Maps are pretty wonderful to have, maybe critical. Topographical maps of your area show you many details to aid your planning and routemaking. Recent road maps are critical if you are navigating to your bugout location and might need to have several alternate routes. Maps also help you choose your bugout or campsite location. An orienteering compass helps your navigate in the wild by topo map. Be Expert With Map & Compass is a great book and now there is even a video/dvd which shows how.
Binoculars and spotting scope are excellent tools to save you time, keep your distance while you reconoiter new areas, and checkout anyone walking up your street or country lane. Compact ones can always be with you, or maybe you choose a monocular? No matter, many uses for these tools everyday.
I remember reading Peter Capstick Hathaway talking about having to burn the privy when a Black Mamba took up residence there. The biggest bummer was the loss of the toilet seat. Pretty ubiquitous, but try sitting on a piece of plywood with your bare ass... A 5gal paint bucket with the appropriate sized trash liner with some kitty litter will make a decent toilet. Supposedly Cabellas sells a toilet seat that fits a bucket. Chemical toilets are pretty decent. With end of RV season you might find chemicals on closeout. Thetford is the best.
Probably brown, green, or camo is the best choice for plastic tarps. The heavy duty ones will wear very long time. 6mil plastic or even 4mil is also super for building or patching with. The very thin plastic floor padding makes a great insulation material if sandwiched between two tarps and sewn so it won't shift around.
The only place to buy junk tents is at the resale shop. If you pay $5-$10 for them, you get your money's worth. I did get a Eureka Timberline in like new condition for $25 once. They are Very Nice. Wenzel is also a good tent you might find at Wally's. The NorthFace VE25 is about the best backpacking/mountaineering tent ever designed for 4 season use. You might also find a USGI 4pc sleep system. The GoreTex bivy, compression bag plus light & med wt synthetic sl bags that nest make for a very workable 4 season solution. Not like you can lay in a puddle and not get wet, but goretex is pretty decent stuff. About $100 used, $165 new for one of these. You might find the camo bivy sacs on Ebay for $25-$50.
Hardware is great to have. A good selection of decking screws in all lengths will enable you to fasten stuff securely and then retrieve your screws later on. Heavy duty galvanized lag screws will hold really heavy stuff in place. They go on quick with a ratcheting socket wrench and could enable fast shelter building in the woods. With an axe, saws and a couple of wedges you could be making timbers or even a log home. Chainsaw is even better. A 16-20" bar with 3/8" pitch chain is a real workhorse that will really earn its keep. Stihl or Husqvarna are the best makes. Poulan is supposedly Husky's cheaper brand.
You might consider fastener systems also. A hammer-tacker stapler is a super tool for rigging plastic sheeting. Adhesives in various formulas come in caulking gun tubes and make application very clean and easy. The big caulking guns really enable big jobs to go fast. You might think about keeping some cheap-0 Wally World sillicone sealant. Then there is gasket maker material. Where does it end? Well, you have to realize if you can't fix stuff you have to adapt it. A tube of sillicone will go a long way if you don't have RTV.