The Ultimate Guide to Bugging In: Preparing Your Home for a Disaster

The Ultimate Guide to Bugging In

Natural disasters are a rare and terrifying but undeniable fact of life. Sometimes it’s possible to “bug out,” or leave the area before disaster strikes, but fleeing isn’t always an option. In those cases, being prepared to shelter at home, or “bug in,” can help ensure that you and your family through safe and sound.

Large-scale disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even massive winter storms can grind life as we know it to a halt, posing tremendous dangers and sometimes creating enormous damage and devastation. Critical services like water and electricity may be interrupted, leaving you without heat, light, or sanitation facilities. Even short-distance local travel may be impossible, making ordinary amenities like grocery stores, gas stations, and medical facilities inaccessible.

Coping with these conditions for even a brief time requires some advance preparation, but with reasonable foresight and careful choices, sheltering safely at home is feasible for most families. The US and Canadian governments both recommend that families make preparation for at least three days of emergency survival, and many preparedness experts advise considering three days as a starting point, gradually adding to supplies to enable home sheltering for several weeks or even months.

If getting ready to shelter at home for days, weeks, or even longer seems like a big job, you’re right – it’s a very big job, requiring time, thought, foresight, and a certain amount of investment in supplies. But it’s the ultimate security for yourself and your loved ones, and it’s something every family can and should do.

On the flip side, being prepared to evacuate, or bug out, is also highly recommended should you need to leave your home in the face of a disaster at short notice. Make sure that you have your bug out bag packed and ready to go.

The Crucial Preliminaries: Have A Plan, Pack A Kit, And Follow Official Instructions

Preparing for an emergency starts long before one is even predicted. Every household should have an emergency plan detailing the initial steps to follow when a disaster occurs. This doesn’t have to be a written plan, but all adults and older children should be familiar with it.

A basic initial emergency plan should include gathering all family members and pets inside, getting all cell phones and charging devices fully charged as promptly as possible, being aware of the various communication channels by which you can get official information on the unfolding situation, and monitoring the situation on TV, non-battery radio, and the internet as long as the power stays on.

All families should also have a very basic emergency kit, including a flashlight, a battery or crank operated radio, and extra batteries for both; candles and matches or lighter; a multipurpose tool or a knife, a screwdriver, and pliers; some cash; and a three-day supply of all medicines taken by all family members. Store these items together in a bag or box and keep it next to a basic first-aid kit in an easy-to-access area that is reserved specifically for emergency supplies.

As soon as you become aware that a disaster is likely or imminent, the emergency plan goes into action. Get all family members and pets indoors immediately, locate your emergency kit, start charging all cell phones and charging devices, and check your TV, radio, weather radio, social media, and any other communication channels for official information and to determine whether people in your area are being advised to evacuate. If you are in an evacuation area, comply with the order if at all possible; it would not be issued unless authorities had reason to believe that staying in place would put you in danger.

If you don’t get an evacuation order, or if you don’t become aware of the evacuation order until the disaster is already underway and it’s impossible to leave, get ready to bug in. If you’ve taken the advance steps below, you’ll be prepared to weather the storm.

Step 1: Select A Designated Shelter Hub

Obviously, the number one concern for bugging in is shelter; being able to stay at least relatively warm, dry, and protected from the elements is critical to survival. Once you’ve identified an emergency plan and packed a basic emergency kit, you can start your bugging-in preparations in earnest, by designating a room or area of your house as your family’s shelter hub.

Since keeping a whole house running in an emergency is impractical, particularly if utilities and basic services have been temporarily cut off, it makes sense to specify one room or area that will serve as your bug in “headquarters.” This is your designated shelter hub, and it’s the area in which most activities will take place for the duration of your bug in. If the power goes off, the shelter hub is the area that you’ll be heating and lighting, and it’s likely the room in which you’ll be preparing food, eating, and sleeping as well.

In some areas, basements or purpose-built below-ground shelters are commonly used for protection during tornadoes, but experts say an above-ground interior room, windowless if possible, is best for most emergencies. Choosing an above-ground area as your designated shelter hub can be particularly important if flooding is common or even a strong possibility in your area, or if chemical, biological or radiological contaminants are released into the environment.

It’s important to select a room that’s large enough to accommodate all family members and pets, along with a non-electrical heat source and sleeping bags and blankets. The designated shelter space should also provide easy access to essential daily supplies of food and water. A family room or den with a wood burning fireplace might be a good choice because it could potentially simplify heating, though that’s not always the case; a fireplace can’t be used if officials say the room must be sealed to keep contaminated air out, and some wood burners can’t be used when the power is off because they require electric blowers for safe operation.

If possible, clear out a closet or other storage space in the designated shelter room and dedicate it to storing emergency supplies like water, food, fuel canisters, etc. If no space is available in the room itself, choose a storage area in an adjoining room or at least nearby, and make sure the whole family understands that it is to contain only emergency supplies which must not be used under any other circumstances.

Step 2: Decide How You Will Create Heat And Light

If you have a wood stove or wood burning fireplace in your designated shelter hub and have not been instructed by officials to seal the room, you might be able to use the fireplace or stove as a heat source as long as you have wood on hand. However, it’s important to be aware that some wood burners and fireplace inserts cannot be safely operated without having electrically-powered blowers operating, so be sure to read up on your device and determine whether it can be safely operated without electricity.

If a wood burner or fireplace isn’t a possible heat source, non-electric heaters that use either kerosene or propane are safe, reliable, and affordable. Either can keep an enclosed space tolerably warm with a relatively small amount of fuel, and both kerosene and propane heaters are readily available in shops and online. Both types of fuel are sold everywhere, and both can be safely stored for several years.

Whatever heating device you choose, be sure to get one that doesn’t require any electricity and can heat a space the size of your designated shelter hub. When you purchase the heater, also buy the recommended amount of fuel to keep it working at least ten hours a day for three days. Though you’ll be storing your heater and fuel with your other emergency supplies, set it up and give it a thorough test run well before it’s needed in order to make sure it’s powerful enough to keep your space warm and see if you’ll need additional fuel on hand for a minimum three-day bug in.

Getting a good non-electric heating device is important, but it’s just one step toward staying warm while sheltering at home in a cold weather no-power situation. Close off the shelter hub room by closing all doors or covering doorways with heavy blankets. Make sure all windows are completely covered, and add heavy blankets over existing draperies to increase insulation. A prolonged power outage during the winter will quickly make you aware of every draft and cold-air ingress point; plastic sheeting or even heavy fabric tacked or stapled over windows and towels wedged under doors can go a long way toward limiting heat loss.

Keep as much activity in the shelter hub as possible during the bug in; not only will it decrease the area to be heated, having people and pets in the room will automatically raise the temperature. Combat cold by wearing multiple layers of clothing, along with hats, gloves, and at least two pairs of socks whenever practical during the day and definitely when sleeping. Make sure there are blankets, quilts, comforters, and sleeping bags for everyone, and be certain that you know exactly where everything is before disaster strikes. There’s nothing more frustrating than shivering through a long night under a blanket, knowing your down-filled sleeping bag is probably crammed into an unmarked box with the tent and badminton net somewhere in the basement.

If the power goes out you’re going to need a light source in your shelter hub, along with portable lighting for moving around the house. A wide range of rechargeable emergency lighting solutions, some of which hold a charge for well over 100 hours, are available at surprisingly affordable prices both online and in stores. If you live in an area where even brief blackouts are common, having a couple of these on hand could go a long way toward making everyday life easier, and they’re a great addition to your bug in preparations.

Flashlights are invaluable during an emergency, so make sure you have several on hand and plenty of spare batteries. Candles are also cheap, portable, readily available, and can actually contribute to warmth during a power outage, but could potentially pose a fire hazard, so take care to keep them well out of reach of children and pets when in use. Camping lanterns, both battery and propane operated, are affordable, reliable, and portable.

Optional, but recommended: In the event of widespread power failure, one of the first items that people rush out to buy are gas-powered generators. They sell out quick in the event of an emergency and having one in advance as a precautionary measure can go a long way in helping you stay comfortable. They are options that are stationary and need to be installed by a professional that are capable of powering an entire house or you can opt for a portable generator, such as the WEN 56200i, that is less powerful but can still come in handy for charging cell phones or running a small space heater.

Step 3: Secure Your Water Supplies

Next to having a secure shelter, access to sufficient drinkable water tops the list of bug in necessities. Water is absolutely crucial to survival, and going without it can be fatal in as little as three days. While water can be easily and affordably stockpiled and securely stored for emergency use, there are decisions to make about how you want to proceed.

Though not all emergencies have a negative impact on the availability of drinkable water, it’s by far safest to assume that you’ll need to have stored water on hand during a bug in. There are basically three approaches to stockpiling water supplies: you can buy bottled water, you can bottle tap water from your own well or municipal water service, or you can collect rain water in a large barrel, then purify and bottle it.

Buying commercial bottled water is the simplest and most convenient method of stockpiling water, but it’s also the most expensive. Collecting rain water in a barrel is probably the cheapest method, but it’s time-consuming and labor intensive. The most feasible and affordable method for most people is simply filling sanitized plastic soda bottles with tap water.

It’s important to note that not all plastic bottles or containers are safe for long-term water storage; for example, milk containers aren’t a good choice because they’re biodegradable and will eventually start to break down, plus it’s difficult to be certain that every trace of the original contents have been completely removed. Soda bottles meet the safe-storage criteria of being made of UV-resistant food-grade plastic so start the stockpiling process by saving your empties (or ask friends and relatives to save empties for you, if you don’t drink soda). For maximum efficiency, larger is better, and two liter bottles are ideal.

When you’ve accumulated a few empties, wash each bottle and cap well with hot water and dish detergent, then sanitize both bottles and caps inside and out with a bleach and water solution (one teaspoon unscented household bleach to one quart of water). Rinse the sanitized bottles well, then immediately fill them with tap water. If your water comes from a municipal service and is chlorinated, you don’t need to add anything, but if your water comes from a well and is unchlorinated, add one or two drops of unscented household bleach. Cap tightly, write the date on the outside of the container, and store in a cool, dark place.

If you have the space and budget for special water storage containers, many shapes and sizes are available. Commercial water containers run the gamut from drums and tanks capable of holding 55 to 100 gallons to small, super-portable rectangular containers, such as the WaterBrick, are designed for maximum stackability.

How much water will you need to store? The US Federal Emergency Management Agency says you should have at least one gallon of drinkable water per person per day, so a family of four would need an absolute minimum of 12 gallons of water for a three-day bug in. Nursing mothers or people with medical conditions may require more daily water, and if you have pets, you’ll need to add stored water for them, too.

How long can you store water? Technically, water in sanitized, sealed containers can be stored indefinitely. Water doesn’t expire or go bad, and though it can develop a stale taste after long storage, it’s still safe to drink. However, FEMA recommends that all non-commercially bottled water should be emptied and replaced every six months.

Even if you have ample water stored for an emergency, it’s a good idea to fill your bathtubs with water as soon as it appears that a disaster scenario is imminent. This water could come in very handy as a supplemental supply if your water service is interrupted for a long period of time, if sewage service is unavailable, or if your well becomes contaminated.

Step 4: Stock Your Emergency Food Pantry

Stockpiling storable, low-prep food is not only a must for emergency scenarios, it’s also a smart move for anyone who lives in an area prone to ice storms, heavy snowfall, torrential rains and flooding, or any other weather-related situations that can interrupt electric service and curtail travel even temporarily. Making home-cooked meals from scratch using only fresh ingredients is a great idea most of the time, but an alternative dinner source will come in very handy on those nights when the family is famished, the power is off, and the roads are impassable.

The trick to successfully stockpiling food is making the right choices. You need items that have a very long shelf life, don’t require special storage conditions like freezing or refrigeration, and can be eaten as-is or with an absolute minimum of preparation. That eliminates a lot of the standard dietary staples like bread, meat, dairy products, and fresh produce, all of which spoil relatively quickly. But just because something has a long shelf life, that doesn’t mean it’s a good candidate for short-term emergency food; both rice and dried beans are all but eternal, but they require a lot of preparation.

There are several options for emergency food supplies, including special dehydrated food packets typically used by backpackers and campers, and even military-style MREs, or Meals Ready To Eat, which come with water-activated heating packets. Both are designed to supply plenty of calories and nutrition. They’re also compact, portable, and very easy to store. However, all that convenience doesn’t come cheap, and dehydrated food isn’t always available locally, though it can certainly be ordered online from many reputable vendors.

The simplest and most affordable option for most people is to stock the emergency rations right from the shelves of the local grocery store. Canned or vacuum-sealed goods can be an excellent choice; canned or vacuum sealed tuna and chicken are long lasting and pack a lot of protein, and canned mini-franks, chili, stews, soups, pasta, fruits and vegetables all have a relatively long shelf-life and can all be eaten with minimal preparation (or even no preparation whatsoever). Buy an extra manual can opener and keep it in your emergency storage area.

You may also want to stock a few cans of fruit and vegetable juices, which have a long shelf life. Having them on hand can keep the kids happy and help make your water supplies last longer. And speaking of canned liquids, store a few cans of evaporated milk; you can add it to other foods to improve flavor and texture, and it makes a good creamer for coffee or tea.

Dried foods like oatmeal, macaroni specialties, Ramen noodles, soup packets, quinoa, and grits can be prepared by just adding hot water. Powdered milk, which has a long shelf-life and is very versatile, is also a good choice for your emergency stores. Nuts and nut products, including peanut butter, have a shelf life of about a year and can provide a lot of flavor along with some necessary protein. Be sure to stockpile standard peanut butter rather than the new “natural” types, which have a much shorter shelf life.

Don’t forget to store instant coffee and teabags, both of which can provide a welcome lift during an emergency situation. If you have a baby, be sure to store several days worth of canned or powdered formula, and lay in plenty of both canned and dry food for your pets.

Important: start your bug in by using up whatever “everyday” food you have on hand that can be eaten with little or no preparation, and use up the most perishable items like milk, bread, lunchmeat, cheese, yogurt, and fruit first. You don’t want to break into your emergency supplies until you have to; if you’re lucky your power will be restored before you’ve emptied the fridge, and if you’re not, at least your food hasn’t spoiled and gone to waste.

Emergency Kitchen Supplies: If your bug in lasts for more than a day, you’ll need some means of heating water and perhaps warming canned foods like soups and stews. Propane camp stoves are a great choice; they’re affordable, reliable, efficient, and come in several sizes. But even if you have a great camp stove, don’t count on doing a lot of cooking during a bug in – remember, the idea is to store foods that require little or no preparation. You don’t want to use any more fuel than absolutely necessary, and remember that cooking requires clean up that will drain your water supplies.

And speaking of cleanup… since you’re sheltering at home, you definitely have access to plenty of plates, cups, silverware, etc. But even if your water supply is uninterrupted, do you want to cope with heating water to do the washing up in a no-power situation? If you’re using your regular kitchenware, it’s either that or dealing with a growing mountain of dirty dishes where your sink used to be. The solution is simple: buy a few packs of heavy-duty disposable plates, cups, and bowls, and a package of disposable spoons to store along with your emergency food supplies. Add a couple of multi-packs of paper towels and use them to clean utensils, wipe out pans and bowls, etc.

Miscellaneous extras: These items aren’t necessarily kitchen-related, but they’re all important, and it’s a good idea to store them with your emergency food supplies, so you know exactly where to find them when you need them. Stockpile several multipacks of toilet paper and boxes of tissues; several boxes or rolls of large heavy-duty garbage bags; an extra bottle of whatever non-prescription headache and pain relievers your family uses; some additional dental care supplies (toothpaste, dental floss, denture adhesive, etc.); a couple bottles of hand sanitizer; a can of dry shampoo; extra deodorant; and at least a week’s worth of disposable diapers if there’s a baby in the family.

Step 5: Prepare To Set Up Sanitation

In an absolutely worst-case scenario, it’s possible that sewage systems could fail. A prolonged power outage could shut down the electrically-powered pumps that keep water flowing to tanks and toilets, and when that happens the results can be devastating. If you think that’s some kind of alarmist nightmare scenario that couldn’t really happen in first-world modern life, think again: in 1998 the city of Aukland, New Zealand suffered a five-week power outage that cut off water and sewage facilities to tens of thousands of apartments and offices. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina left New Orleans’ sewer disposal system, pumps, and water treatment center submerged under 20 feet of water and parts of the system were inoperable for weeks.

If a disaster causes the grid to go down, the immediate concern is how to dispose of human waste. A non-electric self-composting toilet could be the answer if you have the budget and space for it, but in most cases, you’ll need to find other ways to deal with the situation.

If you have an individual septic system with your own septic tank, you can flush even when the pumps are down by removing the lid from the back of the tank, filling the tank with water till it reaches the level of the float, and then pressing the flush lever. Remember the tip to fill your bathtub when you know that a disaster is imminent? This is a very good use for that water.

Alternatively, if you live in a rural area, going outdoors is an option (albeit one that few people will consider as a first recourse, particularly during a severe weather emergency). If you do decide to try this option, dig a roughly 6″ by 6″ hole at least 200 feet from any water source and well away from any rain water runoff. When you’re done, use the dirt you removed to refill the hole and cover the waste.

If you don’t have your own septic system and going outside isn’t feasible, it’s important to determine whether the municipal sewage main is working. If you’re sure the sewage main is operable, you can flush by adding water to the tank, the same way you would if you had an individual septic system. However, if you know (or even strongly suspect) that the sewer main is down, don’t flush your toilet. Doing so could potentially make it possible for sewage to back up into your plumbing. When the sewer main is down, you’ll have to collect and dispose of the waste you and your family generate.

Start by removing as much water as possible from the toilet, then put one heavy plastic garbage bag inside another and open them, creating a single double-layer bag. Raise the toilet seat and position the open doubled bag so that it fills most of the cavity of the toilet bowl, then tape the top securely to the underside of the toilet seat. Keep a large bag of cat litter in easy reach of the toilet.

After use, cover the waste in the bag with a liberal amount of litter to reduce the smell. After a few uses, or when the bag-covered bowl is about 2/3 full, add more litter and a bit of disinfectant (like a mild chlorine solution) if available. Tie the bag securely and move it to a sealable temporary container like a garbage can, placed well away from the shelter hub.

If this sounds like more than you can handle, you may want to look into online outlets and specialty stores that cater to campers, which offer small self-contained portable waterless toilets along with odor-controlling bags and deodorants. But even with these amenities, disposal is going to be a must and failing to do so could result in unbearable living conditions at best and potentially deadly illness at worse. Dealing with human waste in a no-water-no-power situation is a serious business that can’t be taken lightly.

Step 6: Know The Steps To Establish Security

This article deals primarily with sheltering at home during a natural disaster or weather emergency, so arming oneself, determining vantage points for defense, and other extreme security measures really aren’t applicable. However, it always pays to be reasonable about security, and there are some steps you should take to make sure you and your family are safe during your bug in.

Get an extra set of car keys made and keep them with your emergency supplies. If you have an electric garage door, be sure you know how to open it if the power is off. Lock your doors and windows as soon as you’re sure an emergency is imminent. If possible, contact friends or relatives who are in a location that won’t be affected by the emergency and let them know what’s happening in your area and what your plans are.

Get your cell phones and charging devices plugged in and charging as soon as possible. This is actually a very important security measure; a phone can be can be your lifeline in a desperate situation.

If your area is under an evacuation order but leaving is impossible, do everything in your power to get in contact with authorities and let them know that you’ll be sheltering in pace. If someone comes to your door claiming to be a city or municipal representative, ask for identification before you grant entry.

Once you’re sure you’re heading for emergency conditions, do as much as possible to get your shelter hub prepared (covering doors and windows, locating sleeping bags, setting up your heat and lighting devices, etc.) while you still have power – don’t wait for a blackout to get started. Everything is twice as difficult and takes much longer to accomplish when it’s cold and dark. If the power does go off, you’ll be ready. If it doesn’t, you can consider it an excellent practice session and have a good laugh about it.

Stay calm. This is important in any case, but it’s absolutely vital if you have children in your household. Youngsters pick up adults’ vibes with amazing speed, and if you’re tense and terrified, they will be too, and the whole experience will be worse than it has to be. Staying calm also makes you far more resourceful and responsible, improves your memory and dexterity, and generally helps you take care of everything that has to be managed during a bug in.

Keeping Spirits Up – An Achievable Challenge

If you’ve ever spent more than a day or so living through an emergency that trapped you and your family in a cold, dark, powerless house listening to the elements rage outside, you know that it’s an extremely challenging emotional situation. Having a way to stay warm and a good stock of emergency supplies on hand can make it a lot easier, but every day that goes by without a return to normalcy will erode your courage and your spirits unless you really make a sincere and sustained effort to stay positive and hopeful.

The bad news is that there’s no way to predict how long an emergency situation will last. Depending on the nature of the emergency, power outages can range from a few minutes to a few weeks; getting a municipal sewage system back into operation after a major flood can take well over a month. The good news is that you can be certain that the authorities are doing their utmost to solve problems, often starting even before the disaster actually strikes, and situations that require a full bug in of more than three days are relatively rare.

The trick to getting through a bug in is to tread the line between a fun indoor camping vacation and life as usual; you’re going to need elements of both to survive with your sanity intact. Do whatever you can to keep some kind of routine in your life. Try to eat meals at the same time as you normally eat, put children to bed at the usual hour, and resist the temptation to either utterly relax discipline or become exceptionally strict and demanding. Sticking to the usual schedule and tenor of life as much as possible will help everyone stay calm and cooperative.

At the same time, you have to be realistic about the constraints of the situation. Adults won’t be able to go off to their jobs, so the whole family will be together 24-7. Going outside to play will probably be out of the question for both children and pets, so you might have to find ways to deal with excess energy. Ordinary daily hygiene routines will have to be abridged to accommodate the inability to shower or shampoo, which might be fine as far as the kids are concerned, but can make adults exceedingly cranky.

One of the major challenges for modern people in a bug in situation is dealing with the absence of the entertainment sources we take so much for granted, like TV and the internet. The alternatives – books, games, puzzles, etc. – may initially be greeted with strong protest, but try to stay patient and positive about the options. Even if you have battery-operated games, DVD players, etc., it’s probably a good idea to put them out of reach or at least limit their use; while they will help pass the time, they’ll gobble up your emergency battery supply and as long as you’re in a bug in situation, there’s no way to get replacements.

Don’t be surprised if everyone (including you) has periods of moodiness, irritability, restlessness, or depression; bugging-in during an emergency is a strange and uncomfortable situation involving chores and challenges that no one is emotionally ready for. Be prepared to spend some extra time reassuring children that the situation is temporary and everything will eventually return to normal. If you happen to have chronically ill or elderly people in your bug in family group, be prepared to be reassuring with them as well. Emergency situations create feelings of helplessness and fear in everyone, and people who are very old or who have physical problems can feel particularly vulnerable.

Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget to take care of yourself while bugging-in. Sheltering at home has many benefits, but it’s also an extremely demanding way to ride out an emergency, particularly if the power goes off and your regular water service is unavailable. In many ways, bugging-in is a kind of return to pioneer living, but it can be pretty hard to feel exhilarated by overcoming the challenges when the kids are fussy, the dogs are whining to get out, a can of cold chili is the only thing on the dinner menu, and you haven’t had a shower for days. But you’re at home and you’re together; focus on that when the going gets rough.

Rest whenever you can. Stay as warm as possible, and eat enough to stay healthy. Take a multivitamin every day. Hunt up a book of crossword puzzles or a couple of those novels you’ve been meaning to read, and treat yourself to your own personal flashlight for at least a few minutes of quiet distraction each night.

And above all else, keep reminding yourself that everything is eventually going to be fine, and rest assured that you’re doing everything you can.

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survival first aid basics

Survival First Aid Basics: Skills and Gear to Keep You Alive

survival first aid basics

With the current state of modern medicine, getting a cut, sprain, or broken bone is no longer the death sentence that our ancestors faced. With proper medical attention, you can get patched up and on your way in no time.

But what do you do if these medical systems fail, are destroyed, or are jammed with other survivors?

How will you make sure you or someone you love doesn’t die unnecessarily?

The best way to insulate yourself from this type of tragedy is to make sure you learn some basic survival first aid.

First aid is an invaluable skill set to learn and to help get you started we have teamed up with Dr James Hubbard of TheSurvivalDoctor.com.

Besides being a practicing doctor for the last 30 years, Dr Hubbard has also published five easy to understand books on survival first aid (see them here). In this article he walks us through some basic problems that are likely to occur in a survival situation and what you can do to save lives when it matters most.

What are the 3 basic First Aid skills you should learn for a survival scenario?

JH: The skill I most recommend learning is how to stop a wound from bleeding. Most of the time, applying pressure to the wound will work. Also know how to use a tourniquet.

Learn abdominal thrusts for choking. A person can die from choking within minutes, so even in normal times, when emergency services are available, this technique can save a life.

A third important skill is the skill of improvisation. Remember to use what you’ve got. If you don’t have the perfect medical equipment, you may be able to make it out of something common. For example, you can make a decent tourniquet from a belt or a T-shirt. I go over a lot of other ideas for makeshift supplies in the book.

But what about CPR?

JH: That is important to know, but a lot of people are surprised to learn that CPR is only going to keep you alive for a certain amount of time. So it’s most helpful if emergency services are on the way or if you have access to an AED—automated external defibrillator. A lot of public places and even some homes have them.

The longer you keep doing CPR without a defibrillator to restart the heart, the less likely the person is to survive. Experts say to do CPR until you’re completely exhausted. I agree, but in truth, after about ten minutes, the person is unlikely to survive.

Exceptions are victims of hypothermia and drowning. They’re likely to live longer, without irreversible brain damage, because they have lower metabolism—less need for blood and oxygen. Some people, especially children, have survived after multiple minutes—even an hour—of having CPR.

What’s your number-one piece of survival equipment?

JH: Besides my book, I’d say the brain—knowledge. You’re not always going to have the specific equipment you need. If you have knowledge, you can improvise.

What are your top-five must-haves for a “go” bag?

JH: Vinyl gloves to protect yourself from infectious disease and fluids. I like vinyl because some people are allergic to latex. It’s better to buy too large than too small because you can always get a larger size on. And if someone else is using the gloves, they may have bigger hands than you. You could improvise by putting any type of waterproof material over your hands.

I like to keep some SAM Splints. They’re flexible splints that become rigid when you bend them. They’re so versatile, and you can use them for many types of sprains and broken bones.

Have some elastic bandages to use on sprains. They help with stability and with compression, which in turn can decrease swelling. With compression, watch the circulation though; your toes or fingers shouldn’t become numb or cold. You can also use an elastic bandage to keep a SAM Splint in place.

You’ll need bandage scissors or any type of strong scissors that can cut cloth, tape, and the SAM Splint.

And throw in some tape. Duct tape is my favorite. It’s a good waterproof, very sticky type of tape. However, any type of tape will do—the stickier the better. You can use it on bandages or to cover a wound after putting down some sort of cloth or padding. If you have to walk for help and your shoes are causing blisters, put duct tape in the shoes on the pressure points to relieve the friction. Duct tape does have latex in it, so it’s good to keep a latex-free option in case someone is allergic.

One reason I like these supplies is you can use most of them in multiple ways for multiple problems.

I live in a busy city and never go hiking; do I really need these skills?

JH: Yes. There’s always the risk you won’t be able to get medical care due to natural disasters, upheaval, or all kinds of other things.

A few years ago, there was an episode in England when some city dwellers, because of riots, were not able to get medical treatment in a timely manner. Ambulances were overwhelmed with calls, and it wasn’t safe to go into the streets and try to get to help. For unsafe times like that, the book also gives hints on when you really need to get to the doctor if that’s possible and when it can wait.

Even in ideal times, with emergency services just down a couple of streets, that first few minutes before they reach you can save a life.

What are some common household items you can use to treat a cut or wound?

JH: You can stop the bleeding by applying pressure with any clean cloth material, like a T-shirt. Wadded up, the material can apply deeper pressure than your hands would to a rough wound’s nooks and crannies.

You can clean the wound with drinkable water. Or many types of clean liquids will do.

And you can tape the wound with duct tape if the person isn’t allergic to latex. Not all wounds should be closed, but for those that do, a specific taping technique, which I go over in the book, can substitute for stitches if necessary.

What’s the main concern with broken bones and dislocations?

JH: The main concern is usually blood and nerve supply. If the bone is out of place, it can press on a nerve or blood vessel, and you could develop permanent problems. If blood flow is stopped, you could even lose the limb. In the book, I go over ways to check for these problems and try to fix them or minimize the damage, at least temporarily, if you’re unable to get professional help.

If you’re dealing with an open fracture, a main concern is infection. “Open fracture” means a broken bone has gone through the skin—maybe only briefly before going back in. This puts you at high risk for a serious bone infection.

How can you tell if someone has had a concussion?

JH: If a person has had head trauma—from either a hit or a jerk of the head or neck—and then has any symptom caused by that trauma, they probably have a concussion.

Many years ago, we thought you had to be knocked unconscious to have a concussion. Now that belief has changed, and we know there can be at least temporary brain damage with much less. For example, you might be dazed, have a headache, feel nauseous or dizzy, or have trouble sleeping. These are just some of the possible symptoms of a concussion.

What’s the first thing you should do if you get bitten by an animal?

JH: Get away from the animal!  If we’re talking about wounds: If it’s dangerously bleeding, stop the bleeding. Wash the wound out well with water.

Do not close it or get it sutured. Animal bites are especially prone to infection, and closing the wound will give those germs a nice breeding ground. Keep it open so you can regularly clean it and so your body can get rid of some of the germs.

With most normal wounds, cleaning with plain water will suffice. But for animal bites, there’s some indication that Betadine-type solutions work better when you’re trying to wash out rabies germs.

survival first aid basics
If you get bitten by an animal: FIRST get away from the animal, then do what you can to avoid infection.

What do TV shows and movies get wrong about CPR?

JH: The actors don’t press hard enough—because they can’t. You’re supposed to press the chest down about two inches, but you don’t want to do that on a living actor.

Also, the actors usually still do artificial respirations with the chest compressions. Today, it’s recommended that in most circumstances, when laypeople perform CPR, they only to do the chest compressions. Exceptions are when you’re performing CPR on children younger than puberty or on drowning or drug-overdose victims.

Also, in the movies and on TV, people come back to life just from chest compressions. In real life, that’s basically unheard of. It’s very, very rare. You do the chest compressions in order to keep the brain alive until you can shock the heart back.

survival first aid basics
Don’t do what the TV Doctors do. Especially this guy.

What’s the main concern with broken bones and dislocations?

JH: The main concern is usually blood and nerve supply. If the bone is out of place, it can press on a nerve or blood vessel, and you could develop permanent problems. If blood flow is stopped, you could even lose the limb. In the book, I go over ways to check for these problems and try to fix them or minimize the damage, at least temporarily, if you’re unable to get professional help.

If you’re dealing with an open fracture, a main concern is infection. “Open fracture” means a broken bone has gone through the skin—maybe only briefly before going back in. This puts you at high risk for a serious bone infection.

What’s the first thing you should do if you get bitten by an animal?

JH: Get away from the animal!  If we’re talking about wounds: If it’s dangerously bleeding, stop the bleeding. Wash the wound out well with water.

Do not close it or get it sutured. Animal bites are especially prone to infection, and closing the wound will give those germs a nice breeding ground. Keep it open so you can regularly clean it and so your body can get rid of some of the germs.

With most normal wounds, cleaning with plain water will suffice. But for animal bites, there’s some indication that Betadine-type solutions work better when you’re trying to wash out rabies germs.

survival first aid basics
If you get bitten by an animal: FIRST get away from the animal, then do what you can to avoid infection.

Where is the best place to be in a thunderstorm to avoid getting hit by lightning?

JH: In the inside part of a house—away from windows—or in a car. If you’re in the woods, there’s no great place.

Some experts have said to keep walking, so if lightning strikes you, hopefully one foot will be up and one down and you’ll be grounded. Others have said squatting on the balls of your feet, heels together, head down, hands off the ground, will help.

survival first aid basics

These theories are debated. I think the best idea is to stay away from metal poles and structures, and make sure you’re not the tallest thing around—or beside the tallest thing. Squat under a low-lying group of short trees.

People don’t usually die when they get struck. They sometimes have burns. There will be a boom that can cause hearing loss. They can have abnormal nerve troubles and are prone to get depression later on.

Can you really drink seawater, urine, and blood?

JH: Yes. It might help very short-term—meaning several minutes or so; it may get you out of a dangerous situation. But after that, it’s going to do more harm than good.

There’s too much concentration of chemicals in these fluids. Your body will try to dilute those out, so you’ll urinate more than usual. In turn, you’ll become more dehydrated.

Also, you’re putting toxins into your body. With urine, your body has just expelled those chemicals because it doesn’t need them. They’re not like a poison; they won’t kill you immediately. But they’ll be more concentrated in your body and will affect your kidneys in multiple ways.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a lot of skills we can learn to improve our chances of survival. If you are interested in this topic, start off with the basics and build your survival skill set from there. This is a skill that no one ever regrets learning. Always remember, Chance Favors The Well Prepared.

Further Reading:

Your Thoughts?

Is there a survival first aid skill you think everyone should know? Do you have a piece of first aid gear that is a must have for a bug out bag? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

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Using the 80/20 Rule To Prep Smarter, Cheaper, Faster & Better

I don’t know about you but I’m what the French would call “lazy”.

However, I like to think of myself as “efficient”.

By which I mean to say, I prefer to do the least amount of work for the most amount of return. Smarter people than me refer to this as the Pareto Principle a.k.a. The 80/20 Rule.

I don’t know if you read bolded words in a big, booming voice in your head but that’s how I meant it.

What is the 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 Rule states: You should aim to achieve 80% of the results with 20% of the work but the last 20% will take 80% of the work.

For example, let’s say that building a basic shelter, like a lean-to, takes you 30 minutes to set up. But making sure that it’s level, properly insulated, fully weatherproof, has a comfy pine straw floor, etc takes you another 2 1/2 hours. What you built in half an hour was basically all you needed but making it perfect is what took up ~80% of the time. Here is a quick example:

 

How Can The 80/20 Rule Help Me Survive?

I know, I know. You came here to learn about bug out bags and survival skills, not principles and rules and such. But bear with me, I’m going somewhere with this.

We can apply the 80/20 Rule to bug out bags as well.

If you’re on this site, you probably already know how important bug out bags are and why you need them. But raise your hand if you actually have one.

Now look up and see if your hand is raised. If not, read on. If it is, you can jump down to the Weight section.

Let’s start with what to pack.



Try to bring the minimum you need instead of the maximum you can carry

What to Pack

For a lot of people just getting into prepping, putting together their bug out bag is kind of overwhelming. Hell, I wrote a BOB checklist that had almost 100 items on it! And that still wasn’t everything.

Yes, you can go buy a $200 pack and drop another $500 in gear. And it would be totally worth it. But did you know that you can get 80% of the way there and 1107% more prepared than you already are without spending a dime?

If you’re like most people, you’ve got most of the supplies you need to survive already lying around your house. Because you’re surviving right now.

All you’ve got to do is put all that stuff in a bag.

Here’s a very basic breakdown of how this fits the Pareto Principle:

80% – Easy stuff you already own

  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Shirts
  • Pants
  • Food
  • Water
  • First aid supplies (Click HERE to learn how to make your Bug Out First Aid Kit)
  • Medications
  • Flashlight (Check out our comprehensive Flashlight Guide HERE)
  • Lighter/Matches
  • Cordage (paracord is optimal but not everyone has some in their junk drawer)
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Pocket knife
  • Duct tape
  • Floss
  • Super glue
  • Tinfoil
  • Trash bags
  • Ziploc bags
  • Etc

20% – Need to buy

Sure, you’ll probably need to buy some items to be fully prepared but I bet you can survive for a while just on what you can put together in 30 minutes from what you already have.

Weight

Here is an article covering this topic specifically (click here to see it), but I will summarize here to make it easy on you.

bug out bag

A lighter kit will let you travel further and faster before exhaustion sets in.

Why should you care about your bug out bag weight?

  1. The weight of your pack is one of the main factors determining how far and at what speed you’re able to travel.
  2. A heavy BOB will cause you to burn more energy and sweat more, thus requiring more food and water.
  3. And when you’re tired and sore from lugging that thing across Kingdom Come, your morale plummets.

Bug Out Bag Essentials Button

Click on the button now to make your bug out bag list and see how much it will weigh!

But there are some very easy tricks you can do to get rid of a lot of that weight while still keeping 80% of the functionality.

First, comfortable shoes are a must when bugging out. But they don’t do much good if they aren’t on your feet. So either put them on or toss them but don’t take up precious space and weight with a pair of “just in case” hiking boots.

Second, water is important. But you don’t need to bring a week’s worth with you. Knowing how to find and purify water is an essential skill you should know anyways.  If you want to learn how, just Click HERE Now.

A bottle (16 ounces) of water clocks in at 1.05 pounds. So if you’re able to get rid of a spare bottle, you’ve just shaved a significant amount of weight off.

Keep a bottle or two with you (unless you don’t plan on being around a water source for a while) and ditch the rest.


long term water storage

Water is HEAVY! Bring a little and plan on foraging on the way.
Image credit Lisa Risager on flickr.

Third, while food is important, unless you’ve already gone through your original supplies and are forced to scavenge, stay away from cans.

The goal isn’t to have as much food as possible, it’s to have as many calories as possible.

Basically the opposite of your diet.

So focus on small foods that keep well and are high in calories (and protein, if possible). Things like:

  • Trail mix (there are some good recipes here)
  • Protein bars – I like these, they taste awesome and are long lasting.  I usually keep one in my EDC bag for a snack when I am on the run but they are well suited for a bug out bag also.
  • Coast Guard Survival Rations – These ones taste good and are very filling
  • MREs – Stands for “Meals Ready To Eat”, basically Army rations

bug out bag

MREs are light and provide plenty of energy when on the move

Fourth is shelter. If you plan on bugging out in a non-urban environment, shelter is pretty important.

There are two categories to focus on when cutting your shelter weight; what you’ve got and what it’s made out of. And what you can change or leave behind will be based very heavily (pun intended) on your specific situation.

For example, I live in a very hot, humid area. If I had to bug out, chances are low that I’d need a thick sleeping bag but they’re pretty high that I’d need something to keep the rain away.

So in my instance, I decided to ditch the typical tent and sleeping bag and instead went with a lightweight hammock and rainfly.

I’ve got a comfortable place to sleep and something to keep me dry (plus the hammock has mosquito netting which is essential in my region). And it all weighs less than 3 pounds.


bug-out hammock

Click On The Image to learn how to choose the right hammock for bugging out

So to lighten your load, you either need to switch out what you’re carrying, like trading a tent for a tarp or sleeping bag for a yoga mat, or buy lighter equipment.

There are “ultralight” tents and sleeping bags that weigh next to nothing but perform just as well, if not better, than their portly cousins.

If you go this route, make sure you choose your gear carefully, ultralight equipment can cost upwards of ten times the price of regular gear!


best lightweight tent

Click on the picture to see how to choose the right ultralight tent

Space

No, not the final frontier, I’m talking about room in your bag.

If you followed all the rules from the weight section, you should have quite a bit more room for other essential items.

Take a look at the largest items in your bug out bag and ask yourself if you really need them or if there is a smaller alternative.

Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Wrap duct tape around a pencil or your water bottle so you don’t have to carry a whole roll.
  2. Remove items from packaging, if possible.
  3. Attach your flashlight and knife to the outside of your bag (especially if your backpack has MOLLE webbing). This will free up space and make them easier to deploy in a hurry.

Now that you’ve cleaned out the excess, don’t go throwing more crap in there just because you can.

Leaving a bit of space might be a good idea, especially if you plan on scavenging along the way.

Personally, I would use that extra room for more socks and underwear.

You may laugh at that but let me tell you from experience, you do not want to walk numerous miles a day, for multiple days, without a change of socks. Or undies.

Plus they’re light, have a number of uses, and disposable if you find a cute snow globe at the gift shop.

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Wrap It Up

So that’s the 80/20 rule and some ways you can use it to improve your preparedness. Once you get used to thinking this way, you will see you will be able to apply it to nearly any aspect of life to get the maximum results with the minimum effort!

Your Thoughts?

Did you learn anything new? Were you able to apply any of these to your bug out bag? Got some more tips to add on optimizing your prepping?

Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

About the Author

Evan Michaels is the chief editor at Know Prepare Survive. When he’s not rambling about survival skills and bug out bags, he can be found hiking (or, as it’s called in Florida, walking), fishing, and just generally being a cool dude.

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active shooter survival tips

How To Survive An Active Shooter or Mass Shooting


active shooter survival tips

Mass shootings and Active Shooter incidents have seen a steep rise in the US and across the world in recent years. To many people this is one of the most terrifying situations to imagine and prepare for. Most modern mass shootings seem to have an element of randomness and primal rage rolled into them which only serves to heighten anxiety. What can an average person do if they were in church, at work, and a shopping center or elsewhere when bullets suddenly started flying?

What is an Mass Shooting?

What is an Active Shooter?

Mass shooting refers to an incident involving multiple victims of gun violence The Congressional Research Service uses a definition of a “public mass shooting” if 4 or more people are actually killed. (source)

An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. (source)

What Would YOU Do?

Given the massive increase in these incidents, it is something we should all think about and prepare to survive. I encourage everyone to sit down and have a serious think about what you would do if you were in an area that was under siege by an active shooter bent on doing the most damage possible. Would you run? Would you fight back? Would you barricade yourself in a “safe” place and wait for help?



The upward trend of Mass Shootings continues, sadly

Increasing Your Odds Of Survival…

To help answer these questions I reached out to Robert Richardson, an experienced prepper and author who has written about this topic on multiple occasions on his site Off Grid Survival. Robert was very helpful and gave us some practical strategies and tips for maximizing the odds of survival should you ever find yourself under attack from an active shooter.

What can a person do to prepare themselves for the possibility of being involved in a mass shooting?

The number one thing a person can do is realize that the danger is real; this alone already puts you ten steps ahead of the rest of the public, because at the very least you will start to become a little bit more aware of your surroundings and the possible dangers that exist.


active shooter survival tips

Active Shooter Preparedness Drills are becoming more common

Modern day shootings seem to have an element of randomness, what can a person do to reduce their chances of getting caught in the crossfire?

While this might be true in some cases, if you look at a vast majority of these shootings many of them have a couple things in common.

First, a vast majority of these shootings happen in what are known as gun-free zones. For me, I try not to frequent any establishment or area that limits my ability to defend myself. Most of these mass shooters want a large body count and they want easy victims; that’s the reason most of them target gun-free zones. They know they will meet little resistance.

Second, they tend to target events that will get the most media attention; large public events, grand openings, and opening night premiers are all higher-risk situations. I’m not saying you should live your life in fear, but you should be more alert in these types of situations.


active shooter survival tips

If a shooting occurs what is the first thing a person should do?

The first thing you should do actually begins before the shooting ever takes place. Whenever I enter a new place, I make sure I know exactly where my exit points are; that way should something happen, I know right where to head once the danger strikes.

And for those that think this is being overly paranoid, remember this one strategy can save you not only during mass shootings but also during threats like earthquakes or fires. You should always have an exit strategy.

When should a person run vs fight back?

You always want to make escape your number one priority; fighting back is a last resort option, but an option you must be prepared for. Remember this isn’t the movies; all it takes is one bullet to end your life so escape is always the best option.


active shooter survival tips

Should a person who decides to move to safety run as soon as the bullets start flying or hunker down and wait for an opportunity?

It really depends; it’s something that you’re going to have to decide at the moment, based on what’s going on – there really are too many variables to say for sure. But in general, hunkering down or sheltering in place is almost always a death sentence. I really hate when businesses or schools suggest that sheltering in place is an actual strategy for survival; it’s not!

Your number one priority is to get as far away from the danger as possible.

You Should ALWAYS Have An Exit Strategy



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If they decide to fight back, how do they identify their opportunity to strike?

Your best chance might be during a temporary pause, or when the gunman is reloading. It’s really going to depend on the situation, and you may never have a good window of opportunity. That means if you have no possible route of escape, you need to act. That is your window.


active shooter survival tips

Stat Shot: There were 372 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2015, killing 475 and wounding 1,870. (source)

How would you convince random strangers in the same area as you to rush an attacker?

It’s probably not going to happen; most people panic in this type of situation because they never prepared for the possibility. The best you can hope for is yelling “GET HIM!!!” or something like that and hoping others instinctively follow.

What if there is more than one shooter? What should I do differently?

More than one shooter definitely changes the equation, but again these things happen so fast that you really aren’t going to have the opportunity to change things up. You will have to be more aware of where the shooters are, but in general your options are about the same; escape if you can, fight back if you have no other options.


active shooter survival tips

If you had to hunker down how would you signal the outside world for help?

If you can quickly dial 911, without taking your eyes off the danger, then yes. And remember, when hunkering down there’s a difference between cover and concealment. You need to take cover behind something that’s actually going to stop a bullet. Real life is not like the movies, and things like chairs, cars, etc. are not going to stop a bullet.

What should you teach kids to do if there is a shooting at their school?

I would tell them the same things as I would an adult; your best chance is to escape. I don’t care what policy the school has in place, if they tell your kids to shelter in place inside a classroom they are wrong, and I would have some serious doubts about sending my kid to that school.

Make sure your child knows where the escape routes are, and if possible download a map of the school and show them where to go.

Robert’s article Protecting Your Children from Active Shooters & Mass Shootings covers this topic in detail.


active shooter survival tips

From an Active Shooter drill, too late to make a plan now…

How do we increase our level of Situational Awareness to be able to detect danger?

Part of it is just starting to make a conscious effort to look at your surroundings on a daily basis.

Take note of the types of people that are around you, what they are wearing, what your environment normally looks like, etc… that way if something odd happens you will instantly recognize that things aren’t right. And don’t be afraid to trust your gut, we have these feelings for a reason.

If you have kids, point things out to them when you’re out in public. Teach them what to watch out for, where exits are when you enter a business, and encourage them to look around at the world. Make them put down the electronic devices! If your face is staring at your phone you’ll never see anything!

What are some areas/events to avoid if you want to minimize your chances of being a victim of a mass shooting?

  • Avoid opening night events or premiers.

  • Avoid politically charged rallies or anything that has a planned protest around it.

  • Avoid high profile events like championship games etc…


active shooter survival tips

Top Priority: Know where your exits are

What big mistakes are we told to do by the media and authorities if we are faced with this type of situation?

The biggest mistakes, or downright lies and misinformation spread by the media, include telling people to shelter in place, and not mentioning the importance of carrying your own firearm protection. The simple fact is, these shooters want easy victims, and there is no way the police are going to be able to respond in time to save you. You can be a sitting duck, or you can even the playing field and give yourself a fighting chance.

You can be a sitting duck, or you can even the playing field and give yourself a fighting chance



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Conclusion

Active Shooter Situations are a cold, hard reality in modern day life. We need to face this reality and prepare for it like any other. As we see from Robert’s advice, there are a few simple things we can do to increase our odds of survival:

  1. Avoid high profile events if possible

  2. Know your exits whenever going someplace new

  3. Practice situational awareness to get a gut feeling of any situation

  4. If a shooting occurs evacuating the area should be a the priority

  5. Fighting back or sheltering in place are distant second options but may be necessary

  6. If you choose to fight back look for an opportunity where the attacker is distracted or reloading

  7. If you choose to shelter in place find something solid (preferably concrete) that you can hide behind and call for help

Further Reading

Robert has two articles on his site Off Grid Survival that cover this topic. They are great resources and if you want more info I encourage you to check them out:

Here is a fairly good instructional video on what to do if caught in an Active Shooter situation:

Your Thoughts?

Do you have any suggestions for how to survive an Active Shooter scenario?  What would you do if you were caught in the crossfire?  Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

About Robert Richardson

Robert Richardson is the founder and head writer at OFFGRID Survival, one of the top emergency preparedness/survival websites in the world. He is preparedness and survival training expert with over 20 years of real-world experience, and a licensed ham radio operator with over 20 years of emergency communication experience. He is a hunter, fisherman, & extreme backpacker. He writes about his hunting and fishing adventures at monsterfishandgame.com

Robert Richardson is the Author of the Book: The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World. You can check it out on Amazon HERE.



Get more great survival strategies from Robert here.


Active Shooter Survival Tips

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gun safety for kids

How To Teach Kids About Gun Safety


gun safety for kids

When you own a firearm around kids, you NEED to take time to think about safety. There are no two ways about it, kids need to be kept safe. That doesn’t mean fear, however. And that doesn’t mean not owning a firearm. There are just a few things to teaching kids about gun safety that we will talk about.

1. Know the 4 rules of firearms

Rule #1 A firearm is always loaded.

“Always” means…ALWAYS. We taught our children to respect a firearm as loaded, even when we were cleaning it. Any firearm they look at is loaded and ready to shoot. So, it’s important they think on those terms and treat firearms with that respect.


gun safety kids

People like this give responsible gun owners a bad name.

Rule #2 Never let your barrel point at anything you are not willing to destroy and take responsibility for destroying.

That is just another reason for rule #1, really and shows the consequences of not taking that seriously. Remember, you are 100% responsible for all shots fired, including those “unintentional” ones. Even at the range, you don’t point the firearm at anything you aren’t wanting to shoot at.

Rule #3 Know what’s behind your target.

Simply put, what’s behind that deer, that duck, that target? That’s the main reason we wear orange or neon colors when hunting. It’s a signal that you are there to other hunters and to not shoot that deer you are standing behind. Imagine if the shot went through the animal, or just above or below it and hit the target BEHIND the intended target. That could be tragic. Know what’s behind what you are shooting at.


kids gun safety

In a well set up range there is no doubt that missed shots are not a problem

Rule #4 Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.

This is very important, as accidents happen. If your finger isn’t on the trigger, the firearm isn’t going to go off. At the range, we teach our children that you don’t put your finger on the trigger until you have aimed, know what’s behind the target and taken a deep breath first. Taking a breath not only will steady the aim, it allows you to really see the target and have a better chance at hitting it the way you want to.



2. Keep it locked up and out of reach when not in use.

This is not only for their safety, it’s for those times when their friends are over. You can teach your kids to not touch a firearm without you present (as we have) but you can’t necessarily control how their friends will react. We use a trigger lock, store it in a locked cabinet and away from any ammunition.


3. Along those lines, we also chose not to make a firearm in the home a mysterious thing.

Our kids were part of our decision to own one, as well as part of the decision where to keep it stored. It made them less “curious” about the firearm, and less likely to want to play around with it. Of course, it’s still locked up when we are not at the range, and we go as a family often to practice.

Kids younger than 3 years old got ahold of guns and shot someone at least 59 times in 2015 according to The Washington Post

4. Practice with your kids at the range.

Often. We go at least bi-monthly to our local indoor range. Since we own a firearm, it’s not of any use to us unless we know how to use it properly. So, we practice. Our kids know how to load, aim and fire each firearm safely. My oldest son is actually a better shot than I am, and reminds me of that often, “An amateur will practice until they get it right, a professional will practice until they can’t get it wrong” is our mantra with firearms.


kids gun safety

Practice at the range can be a fun activity for the whole family

5. Allow your kids to help you clean the firearms after use.

They will garner a respect for them, as well as learn more about safe handling. It’s our kids’ job to clean all the firearms after the range, with my husband and I being there to guide and help them. If they are going to use it, know about it, they need to know how to care for it.  Check out the video below for some basic tips on cleaning firearms safely.

Conclusion

Keeping kids safe around firearms only requires you to use common sense and some basic standard measures. If you can’t follow them, then please don’t own one. Too many tragedies are caused by adults who didn’t follow the basic safety rules.

 

Your Thoughts?

Do you have any tips for parents who want to educate their kids on proper gun use and safety? How did your parents teach you to be a responsible gun owner? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!


 

About The Author

Heather Harris and her family live in Northern Indiana where they strive to raise 75% of their own food on their 1/5 acre. You can follow their crazy adventures at The Homesteading Hippy

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