survival fitness

Are You Fit to Bug-Out? An Essential Guide to Prepper Fitness

prepper fitness

Why Fitness is an Integral Part of Disaster Scenario Preparedness

“Look at the abs on that woman scrounging for food!” Said no one, ever.

Improving your survival fitness doesn’t mean perfecting your body to fitness model standards, it means conditioning your fitness level to enable your body to handle the various physical tasks that will be necessary in a disaster scenario – and it’s just as important as any other aspect of your prepping plan.

While you may have stockpiles of food and water, a bug-out-bag packed and ready to go, and a bug-out plan tweaked to perfection, none of that will matter if you get out into the wilderness and literally can’t hack it. Conditioning yourself to sustain the grueling physical requirements of surviving off the grid will substantially increase the chances of survival for even the most prepared prepper.

prepper fitness
You don’t need to be a body builder to be fit to survive.

Prepper fitness is not about aesthetics or running an extra mile on the treadmill, it’s about gradually increasing your body’s ability to handle the various tasks that your survival will depend on during a disaster scenario.

Improving your survival fitness is something you can start now that will continue to pay dividends down the road and can actually make up for deficiencies you may have in other survival areas. For instance, tasks such as hunting for food, digging a well, or even defending yourself against attackers, can all be augmented with improved physical strength.

To maximize your survival fitness, take a look at your bug-out plan and consider all the activities involved in its execution. In this article, we will examine common scenarios likely to arise in a disaster situation and provide daily workouts to help you achieve your prepper fitness goals. However, before beginning any physical training, it is always best to check with your doctor to ensure you’re in good health and able to safely follow the fitness routine.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Prepper Fitness Guide

Walk For Your Life

Walking is an easy, healthy way to begin conditioning your body for endurance – and it’s something you can do with the whole family!

Not only is walking useful for building up your physical endurance, but also conditioning yourself to walk several miles at a time can be essential for reaching your bug-out location. How many miles do you and your family walk on a daily basis? The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week; if you’re just beginning, start walking for 30 minutes, 5 times per week.

As you get stronger, start to increase the distance you cover as well as the difficulty of the path you take, gradually choosing rougher terrain and steeper inclines to better prepare you for the realities of bugging-out. 

Carry Your Weight

Once you’ve conditioned yourself to walk the distance required to your bug-out location, the next milestone is to ensure you can walk the the distance while carrying your bug-out bag, or other necessities, during a crisis.

prepper fitness
Don’t be intimidated by lifting weights – your bug-out bag will help you get in shape!

Don’t exhaust yourself – start slow by carrying your bag only partially packed a couple times per week. Work your way up to carrying the bag fully packed, all the way to your bug-out location. This also serves as a great exercise to determine if there are any non-essential (especially heavy) items that can be removed from your bug-out bag.

Learning to trek with gear doesn’t have to be an onerous exercise – make a weekend of it! Plan weekend camping trips with your family, gradually increasing the difficulty of the trail you follow to your campsite. Eventually, your entire family will be ready to trek through the woods at a moment’s notice – and you’ll have some fun doing it!

Make a Run For It

While you always hope that in a bug-out scenario walking will suffice, there may be times when you and your family are forced to pick up the pace – whether to cover more ground quickly or to evade threats. Best to start early in training your body to endure bursts of speed as well as longer intervals.

Sprint training can easily be worked into your existing walking routine by adding vigorous sprints at 5 or 10 minute intervals. Sprints are a great way to kick up your heart rate and condition your body, but they also put added strain on your joints and muscles; always stretch well before and after attempting this type of exercise routine.

prepper fitness
Picking up the pace in your survival fitness routine will better prepare you for disaster.

Eventually, you can turn your walk-sprints into a jog, and then a full-fledged run. Running for only 75 minutes per week will do wonders for your cardiovascular health and adds the desirable benefit of helping to trim down excess weight – introducing a running element to your fitness routine is definitely a win-win!

Strengthen Your Chances For Survival

Cardio training is essential for getting you to your bug-out location, while strength training is necessary to help you combat obstacles that may get in your way, as well as surviving the general increase in activity that accompanies living off the grid.

prepper fitness
The world may look very different in the aftermath of a disaster. You never know what obstacles will stand in your way.

If you’re curious as to what level of strength is necessary, it really depends on your particular situation, locale and bug-out crew – are you able to clear an obstacle from your path such as a downed tree (likely in a rural bug-out) or vehicle (likely in an urban bug-out)? Can you lift your children up and over your head? If you were hanging, are you able to drop one hand and offer it as help to someone else? Situations such as these require a strong and developed core.

prepper fitness
There’s a reason push-ups are used in military and athletic training – they work!

The good news is – you don’t need expensive equipment or gym memberships to build a sturdy core. There are plenty of exercises you can do right in your own home using your own body weight as resistance – push-ups, sit-ups, and squats are some great examples. If you prefer a little more guidance and structure, try Run, Prepper, Run! by Dan F. Sullivan to help build your core strength, as well as many other aspects of prepper fitness.

In addition to structured workouts, try taking up a sport to build your prepper fitness. You can typically start at any level and there are generally options for playing sports indoors and outdoors for year-round access. In terms of getting a full-body workout, rock climbing provides an outstanding experience.

Be Flexible

When building physical fitness, never neglect flexibility! Having flexible joints is essential to preventing discomfort and injury while performing the many tasks a bug-out will require of you, such as crawling through a tunnel or squatting by a fire.

prepper fitness
An exercise ball is a great tool for flexibility training.

Building flexibility can be as simple as adding stretches to your fitness routine or, for even greater flexibility, pursuing a flexibility-oriented activity such as yoga. For those just starting out, a great stretch to include in your workout is the toe-touch:

The object of the toe-touch is to stretch the backs of your legs by bending at the waist. Begin with a stance placing your feet shoulder-width apart (feel free to use a countertop or table to support your upper body and assist with keeping your back straight). Once you can easily bend at a 90 degree angle, swing your arms towards the floor and hang there – but don’t bounce! With each exhale, move yourself deeper into the bend.

prepper fitness
Just a few poses a day can really improve your prepper fitness level.

Yoga positions are also excellent for both conditioning and enhancing flexibility. For legs and obliques (the muscles that run up your sides), try warrior stances; for the shoulders, lower back, and hips, alternating cat and cow positions will do the trick; a downward facing dog position will help lengthen your spine while providing a solid stretch for your arms and legs. For further yoga positions, check out this helpful video.

Take to the Water

Having solid skills in and around the water is essential for bugging-out. At the very least you, and everyone in your crew, should know how to swim as well as be familiar with water rescue techniques and how to steer a boat with paddles.

The ability to swim not only opens up your bug-out plan to alternate routes, but can also be a life-saving skill. Especially in the case of a natural disaster, there could be severe flooding that forces you to evacuate using a raft; additionally, in the course of bugging-out, a family member may fall into a river or other body of water – do you have the skills to rescue them?

prepper fitness
A flood is not the time to learn basic water survival techniques.

For adults who have never learned to swim or have a fear of the water, rest assured you are not alone. Plenty of organizations, most notably the YMCA, offer both youth and adult swim lessons that will teach you the basics such as how to tread water, back float, and free-style swim.

For those that are comfortable in the water, consider augmenting your water survival skills by taking a lifeguard certification class, which can provide you with the knowledge needed to assist others to shore, whether they are conscious or not.

prepper fitness
This lifesaving skill is a great one to add to your survival fitness goals.

Learning some basic steering skills for watercrafts, particularly with paddles, can also save you tremendous hardship in a crisis situation. This is definitely not a skill you want to try and pick up on the fly.

prepper fitness
Canoeing is great exercise, too!

You can learn the positioning required to stop, turn and propel a boat quickly by taking a weekend and trying it out with a rented or borrowed canoe. For some essential pointers, check out this video.

Defend Yourself

No matter what the reason for bugging-out, there will always be a need to know self-defense. In the case of civil unrest, the need is obvious, but even in the case of natural disasters, you will undoubtedly need to protect yourself and your family against those who are less-prepared and desperate enough to take your supplies by force.

Depending on your size and build, hand-to-hand combat may not be the most ideal form of defense, but there are ways in which you can maximize the power behind your punches no matter how mismatched the fight. For smaller people, power can be amplified by targeting the eyes, nose, ears, neck, groin, knee and legs of your attacker; you can also learn different ways to free yourself from an attacker’s hold.

Martial arts offers great training for preppers of any size and has the added benefit of building both self-defense and fitness capabilities. Best of all, it’s an activity the entire family can do together to build the positive attributes of self-discipline, strength, and defensive skills.

Final Words on Prepper Fitness

When it comes to building endurance for prepper fitness, every little bit helps. Much like stockpiling food, if you add a little to your survival fitness regime every day, your conditioning will continue to grow. Even fitting in a half-hour walk every day will make you better prepared than those who don’t – and you’ll be surprised at what you’re able to accomplish when you stick to your goals!

If you’re serious about prepper fitness, then Dan F. Sullivan’s ‘Run, Prepper, Run! survival fitness training program is a must. CLICK HERE NOW to visit the training program and learn how ANYONE can improve their physical fitness to bug out!

prepper fitness
Click on the book to learn more about prepper fitness.

Your Thoughts

Do you find it challenging to add fitness into your prepping? Do you have a survival fitness regime you’d like to share? Share your experiences in the Comments section below, thanks!

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save money prepping

Ingenious Ways to Save Money Prepping

Ingenious-ideas-intro

Note: This article was contributed by Dan F. Sullivan of SurvivalSullivan.com. To learn more about Dan you can see the About the Author section at the end of the post.

Let’s face it: if we were to buy every survival item we read about online or in books, we’d have to spend dozens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on preps. That’s a lot of money!

Prepping and living frugally go hand in hand and it was only a matter of time after I started prepping myself that I started to look for ways to minimize my expenses. In what follows I want to give you nothing but ways to save money prepping, starting with the obvious ones (that you may already know) and finishing with the ones that may surprise you.

Use Coupons

save money prepping
All that clipping can really help you save money prepping. Don’t forget to look for coupons online, too.

What a shocker, right? Everybody knows about coupons but, the fact of the matter is, you can only buy certain categories of products that are also relevant to survival. Look for:

  • hygiene products
  • Ziploc bags (these will be very hard to find post-collapse, by the way)
  • batteries (for your flashlights etc.)
  • pet food
  • insect repellents

Couponing is an art and it has its own tips and tricks that are out of the scope of this article.

Buy in Bulk

Another obvious tip but here’s the not-so-obvious part. Start your bulk buying efforts with things you know you’ll consume anyway in a reasonable amount of time. What I mean is, it makes more sense to buy a lot of floss instead of a one year supply of beans because you can start using it instead of just looking at it. This is a great way to get your feet wet with bulk buying.

Rotate Your Stockpile

The subtitle should actually read: make survival food part of your daily diet. That way you’ll never throw away a single ounce of food that could expire if you don’t eat it in time. In fact, a lot of survival foods do expire before you expect them to, particularly if they’re not stored right.

This, of course, has the side benefit of you and your family getting used to survival food, trying out different brands, comparing prices, taste and so on.

save money prepping
Preparing meals from your stockpile helps keep it fresh and get your family used to the foods.

Buy Raw Ingredients Instead of Whole Foods

There are numerous advantages to that and the downside is obvious: you need more time to get all of them and more time to cook. Other than that, buying ingredients is great because:

  • you save money (you don’t get charged for the actual making of the product)
  • it’s healthier because you don’t get many of the preservatives and additives found in most foods
  • and, most of all, raw ingredients have a much longer shelf life than the actual cooked foods

Raw ingredients also allow for versatile cooking. You can change the seasoning and add new ingredients to a dish to pack in more nutrients and cater to your family’s tastes.

Monitoring Your Food Supply

When investing in stockpile of food, you will want to protect your investment. Take into consideration the shelf life of your preps and start collecting those that will last the longest. The most common are rice and beans and for good reasons. They are inexpensive, have long shelf lives, and are relatively easy to store. Here are general guidelines for basic foods and how to store them in order to make them last as long as possible.

Food ItemFormAverage Shelf-Life Beyond "Best Buy" DateTo Increase Shelf Life
White Rice
(instant and regular)
Dried4-5 years for best nutritional value
Indefinitely if kept dry and cool
Keep temperature low
Avoid moisture
Brown RiceDried6-8 months
8-12 months if refrigerated
Because it is a whole grain, the extra nutrients and fats cause it to spoil more quickly than white rice
Keep temperature low
Avoid moisture
BeansDried2-3 years before vitamins begin to degrade
After 5 years, vitamins are completely gone, though protein and minerals are still present
Indefinitely ok to consume if kept dry and cool
Store in vacuum sealed mylar or #10 cans
Keep temperature low
BeansCanned1 yearKeep temperature low
Avoid moisture
MeatDried2-3 months
The higher the fat content, the sooner jerky will go rancid
Store in original packaging in the freezer
MeatCanned2-5 years
Must be stored below 75 degrees Fahrenheit
Keep temperature low
Avoid moisture
FruitDried6-12 months
1-2 years if refrigerated
Indefinite in the freezer
Keep temperature low
Avoid moisture
FruitCanned1-2 yearsKeep temperature low
Avoid moisture
VegetablesCanned1-2 yearsKeep temperature low
Avoid moisture
PastaDried1-2 yearsStore in original packaging
Avoid moisture
Cereal
(boxed)
Dried6-8 months
Presence of dried fruit may decrease shelf life
Store in cool, dark place
Avoid moisture
Cereal (steel cut oats)Dried2-3 yearsStore at a steady cool temperature
Avoid moisture

Because of the broad range for most foods, it’s important to also know what to look for to make sure the food is safe to consume. Watch out for cans that appear bloated or rounded on top. This is caused by gases released during decomposition and means that the food is spoiled. Also avoid cans that are rusted or leaking because once the seal is lost, the food will spoil.

save money prepping
Proper storage techniques will help your bulk foods stay fresh longer and help you save money prepping.

In dried foods, like grains and beans, check for insects, mold, and fungus. Color and smell are also good indicators- if you open a can and see brown spots or catch a whiff of an ammonia-like smell, do not consume the contents. Spoiled food should be discarded immediately and the container cleaned thoroughly to prevent spreading to other parts of your food supply.

Save Money Prepping With Brand Research

Just because a brand is reliable and has lots of reviews, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a better deal somewhere else. There are always small brands that offer competitive prices as a way to get a slice of the marketplace. All you have to do is find them, do your due diligence and get the one with the best price / quality ratio.

save money prepping
Make sure you compare equal quantities when looking for the best deals. Also, many sites offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount.

Research can take a lot of time but, hey, if you don’t have the money, you have to compensate for that with time. Fortunately, you can do most of this online.

Focus On Your Skills

If you already have your 3 week emergency food supply, maybe it’s time to consider upgrading your skills or fitness level instead of going for a 3 months’ supply. These will be extremely important when disaster strikes and it’ll give you a chance to “delay” spending more money.

save money prepping
Working on your outdoor survival skills is time well spent.

Honing your camping skills, like fire-making, shelter building, and outdoor cooking can all be done in your backyard at little to no cost. Put down the matches and try different ways of starting a fire from natural materials. For six fire-building methods to practice, CLICK HERE.

Spending a day in the backyard building a shelter is a fun way to teach your kids this important skill. There are many types of shelters that are simple and provide protection from wind and rain. Top off the day with cooking dinner over an open fire and you will have practiced three major survival skills without spending a penny.

Self-Sufficient-intro2
Click to learn more ways to increase your self-sufficiency!

Make Things Instead of Buying Them

I’m talking about things around the house such as chicken coops, solar panels, fences, safe rooms, nightstands, furniture – you name it! This can be really fun, particularly if you involve your children.

save money prepping
Get out your tools and start building!

The same goes for home repairs. Learn the basics of carpentry, plumbing, and electric work through hands on experience in your own home or helping out friends and family. Take advantage of opportunities to acquire new skills by volunteering in your community.

plumbing-840835
Practicing home repairs will keep your skills sharp.

You should also keep in mind these DIY skills are going to be golden post-collapse when everyone’s going to want to fix their homes.

Barter With Other Preppers

Well, as long as everyone’s buying in bulk, why not trade stuff so you can all be more prepared? You can increase the variety of your preps while still taking advantage of bulk prices. This will also be a very good lesson about how bartering works.

Trading skills can also help you become more prepared. Maybe your neighbor is great at canning vegetables and you’ve mastered building a Dutch oven. You can both benefit from each other’s knowledge. Learning from someone with experience can shorten the time it takes to acquire a new skill.

Lending a hand
Trading skills and services is a great way to save money prepping and get work done while you do it.

Do It Right the First Time

If you’re afraid to make mistakes or if you want to be prepared for a 3-day emergency ASAP, you’d have to make a lot of compromises: buying MREs, getting a backpack with a non-metallic frame and on and on. When you avoid buying overpriced stuff, you save money long term because you’d eventually have to buy the real deal sooner or later (not to mention a quality tool can last you a lifetime).

Do Your Shopping Without Your Car

This will obviously save you money on gas, it will help you lose weight as well as tone up. Tip: instead of carrying your groceries home in bags, put them in a backpack. This will be an excellent practice for when you’ll be bugging out with your BOB.

Be Realistic (And Creative)

Don’t lose sight of the goal: to prepare your family for survival during a crisis situation. That may mean making substitutions for expensive items or repurposing items you already own. Garage sales can be a gold mine of camping gear and other useful preps. Keep an eye out for businesses that may be getting rid of unwanted items that you can repurpose. A little creativity can go a long way.

Your Thoughts

Well, those were it. Can you think of more ways to save money prepping? Let us know in the Comments section below so we can build the biggest money-saving list pertaining to survival there is! And if you’re looking for something a little more structured, I strongly suggest your read my article on the basics of prepping right here.

About the Author

Dan F. Sullivan runs SurvivalSullivan.com. He describes himself as:
My dad was military. My grandfather was a cop. They served their country well. But I don’t take orders from anyone. I’m taking matters into my own hands so I’m not just preparing, I’m going to friggin’ war!

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making your home self-sufficient

Going Off the Grid – How to Make Your Home Self-Sufficient

making your home self-sufficient

In past articles, we’ve shown you what habits to pick up and which to break in order to make yourself more self-sufficient – now it’s your home’s turn. Making your home self-sufficient will not only increase your preparedness and chance of survival in times of crisis, but also will help you save on household costs such as electricity and water – win/win!

In a survival situation, your ability to power your home without reliance on a power grid, municipal water, or other external resource will greatly increase your chance of survival as many of these resources will no doubt be unavailable. While most people will have to learn to do without, you’ll be able to keep powering essential home elements (such as your lights and water supply) with your self-sufficient homestead, giving you a substantial advantage in the race for survival.

In addition to being prepared for the chaos of a survival situation, having a self-sufficient home can save you money over the long-term by cutting down on your energy and water costs. Additionally, the experience and knowledge gained while installing self-sufficient systems in your home will stay with you and could be of great value in a future scenario that may involve starting from scratch, i.e. a bug-out scenario.

With a plethora of technology options emerging everyday as well as myriad age-old methods, taking the first step towards making your home self-sufficient can be daunting and overwhelming, especially for beginners. Not to worry – we’ve gone ahead and done the hard part for you! We researched the most popular solutions available and provide analysis to help you choose the best for you in the areas of energy, heat, water and composting – key elements in developing a truly self-sustaining homestead.

Self-Sufficient Energy Sources

When looking for self-sustaining sources for energy, solar and wind options offer great, renewable choices; however, these options may not be feasible for some preppers and as such, we’ve provided information on popular backup power options.

making your home self-sufficient
Any step you take toward making your home self-sufficient is a step in the right direction.

Solar

Solar power has seen its popularity soar as it has become more affordable and accessible to homeowners over the years. Provided the right conditions exist for capturing enough sunlight, solar is an incredibly viable system for powering your entire home. Solar power works by using solar panels to capture the sun’s rays to harness energy.

Generally, there are two ways to install solar panels: rooftop and standalone.

Rooftop Panels

With rooftop panels, positioning is everything. You want your panels facing within 90 degrees of direct sunlight and, ideally, have full access throughout the day. This ‘perfect’ location will of course change seasonally (with the movement of the sun) and therefore it is best to calculate where the ideal location is for each month of the year and average out the results. (For a hand with this calculation, use a solar angle calculator, such as this one or this one.)

Another consideration when installing rooftop panels is the amount of shade your roof receives and the angle of the pitch. If a portion of your roof is shady, this will decrease the amount of energy that can be harvested; as well, the angle of the pitch on the panels must be between 30 and 50 degrees, therefore necessitating an incline frame if you have a flat roof.

Before installing any panels, ensure the structure is sound enough to support the weight of the solar panel system and that roughly 300-500 square feet of unobstructed roof space is available.

Standalone Panels

If rooftop panels won’t work for your particular situation, perhaps your property is better suited for the installation of a standalone structure. The standalone panels can be stationary or fitted with a solar tracker that follows the movement of the sun for maximum power absorption.

Standalone panels can also be fitted with either single or dual axis trackers: single axis trackers tilt to improve the angle of incidence of the panels, while dual axis trackers can both tilt and pivot, increasing the amount of captured energy by up to 25%.

making your home self-sufficient
Positioning solar panels for maximum energy production may require a standalone system.

Professional vs. DIY

Professionally installed solar systems are an excellent option for providing your home with a self-sustaining energy source; however, they are expensive. It can take many years before a homeowner recoups their investment in solar power through energy bill savings.

If the investment in solar panels to power your entire home is beyond your financial means, consider trying out some smaller scale systems, as solar panels can also be used to charge batteries, light your walkway, or power a garden irrigation system.

If you’re handy with a soldering iron, there is even a DIY solar panel you can try out.

Wind

Wind energy can be harnessed through turbines, which offer an emission-free power source and can generate sufficient energy to power a moderately-sized home when ideal conditions are met.

Before installing a wind turbine, the first thing you need to do is check your local zoning regulations to see if you can legally install one. Next, ensure your property is situated in an area that receives enough wind to be able to produce sufficient energy to power your home. A qualified manufacturer can help you determine the exact output needed, but most homes require anywhere from 2-10 kW; typically, a property as small as one acre can be powered by a small turbine.

making your home self-sufficient
Making your home self-sufficient with renewable energy is a big investment but it can pay off in the long run.

In general, the average height of a wind turbine is 80 feet, with towers ranging anywhere from 30-140 feet in height. The height of your turbine will impact its productivity, especially in wooded areas where the treeline can cause an obstruction. The diameter will usually be somewhere in the 12-25 foot range.

At a cost of $10,000-$70,000, wind turbines are a steep investment and can take up to 30 years to pay off through energy bill savings. Additionally, on a day without any wind, you won’t have any power and will need a backup system. In order to deal with this deficiency, some wind turbine owners choose to remain connected to the grid.

making your home self-sufficient

For those who prefer to remain completely off the grid, excess energy captured on productive days can be stored in batteries for use later. Solar panels also act as a complementary energy source for off-grid wind turbines.

If you’re not quite ready to make the investment but like the advantages of wind turbines, you can build one yourself at a much lower cost.

Alternative Power Sources

If neither solar nor wind energy will work for your home, you can purchase a backup power system as a means of making your home more self-sufficient in the case of a power outage or disaster scenario.

power grid failure

Generators

In the aftermath of recent storms and power grid failures, backup generators have proven to be a reliable means for keeping households running.

When choosing a generator, there are two numbers to keep in mind: the steady-state wattage (the amount of energy required to keep an appliance running) and the surge wattage (the amount of energy required to start up an appliance).

In terms of lights, these numbers are generally the same, but in the case of something like a refrigerator, the surge wattage is nearly twice the steady-state wattage. Take both these numbers into account when deciding which appliances you want to backup in the case of a power outage.

Tesla Powerwall

While not available just yet, the Tesla Powerwall has the potential to drastically change world energy consumption; currently, interested buyers can reserve a Powerwall online with the earliest expected delivery date in late 2015.

The Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable, lithium battery that is powerful enough to provide energy for your entire home. The battery charges itself while energy costs are low (typically overnight) and then takes over as the main power source when costs are high, substantially lowering your energy costs. As such, the Tesla Powerwall can serve as a backup power source as well as be used in conjunction with solar panels to store captured energy for future use.

Self-Sufficient Water Systems

Securing an independent water supply can typically be very tricky, especially if you are hooked into your municipal water system. Drilling a well is one of the more obvious choices, but is not always an option. If you are able to drill a well, consider having the pump powered by solar or wind energy in order to have a 100% self-sustaining water system.

If drilling a well isn’t an option for you, here are two alternatives you can try:

Rain Water

Rain is a renewable resources and can easily be collected using free-standing barrels or by linking directly to the gutter system of your home. Unfortunately, the water collected is not safe for drinking, but it can be used for other purposes such as watering your lawn, helping keep your water bill down.

Water Storage Tank

A water storage tank can hold enough drinking water to sustain a short-term bug-in; however, you need space for it. If you are planning to bug-in in an apartment without room for a storage tank, you can opt for a sealed bathtub liner that can be filled during an emergency.

Self-Sufficient Heat Sources

Depending on the climate in which you live, having the ability to heat your home during a power outage or crisis scenario can very literally be a life-saving modification.

The simplest and easiest way to install a self-sustaining heat source in your home is through a wood-burning stove, but geothermal energy systems are also an option.

Wood-Burning Stoves

If you’ve never owned or operated a wood-burning stove system before, start out small by only installing one stove until you’ve had a chance to master it and work out the kinks; after you’ve got a solid handle on how it works, start expanding by adding additional stoves to other rooms in your home.

Modern stoves can be quite efficient and offer features that make it easy to regulate temperature and air intake. As it is a closed system, many models can even be left safely overnight to burn without causing worry.

making your home self-sufficient
Even when the power is out a wood-burning stove can keep your home warm.

Maintaining your wood-burning stove as a heat source requires keeping a constant stockpile of fuel stored in a dry and accessible area. Additionally, keeping your chimney clean is imperative to ensure proper functioning and safety.

Geothermal Energy Systems

Geothermal energy systems use the existing heat energy given off by the earth below the frost line, making these systems very effective at heating or cooling homes in any climate. It works as a closed loop system, piping water from your home deep down into the ground, then back up again to your home.

As the earth’s temperature is a steady 50 degrees F, cold winter air can be heated up and hot summer air can be cooled down: air circulates through ductwork and passes over water coils, where it is heated or cooled before being circulated through the home. This system includes a compressor to enhance the heating or cooling effects by compressing or expanding the refrigerant.

While the system is effective, it is also expensive, with a return on investment time frame similar to that of solar panels (10-15 years).

Self-Sufficient Composting

Granted, composting is not a direct energy producer, but it is a great way to conserve resources by turning lawn debris and food scraps into rich soil that can be used in your garden. In turn, your garden can then become a source of healthy food that fuels your body. Composting is inexpensive and easy to do, whether you’re working with hundreds of acres or only a couple square feet – there’s really no reason not to compost!

making your home self-sufficient

Outdoor Composting

The most basic composting structure can be made using a single sheet of wire mesh by wrapping it in a cylindrical shape and supporting it with wooden stakes. This simple yet effective design provides easy access to the soil at the base of the composter, as you need only remove the stake and open the structure at its side. It’s also very easy to relocate should you change your mind, and inexpensive to expand if you’d like to increase your compostable output.

making your home self-sufficient

The next step up from a mesh structure is to build a composting box, which isn’t terribly more complicated. The frame can be constructed from wood and then lined with mesh wire at the side. Pallets lend themselves well to the job as they are a good size already and have slats that will provide ventilation while keeping in your waste material. Additionally, some designs will include a hinged gate on the upper half of the front panel to allow for easier access to the soil.

Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting – or adding worms to the process – is a great way to increase the decomposition rate while also reducing odour; this makes it a convenient option for composting kitchen scraps and apartment composting.

To set up a vermicomposting system, use two plastic bins of the same size to create the perfect environment for the worms. Drill holes in the recessed areas of the inner bin to provide for aeration and drainage, making sure the holes are small enough so that the worms won’t fall through.

For the lid, cut out a square and line it with window screen to allow oxygen as well as light to enter, which will help to orient the worms (who are photosensitive) by driving them down into the decaying material. Placing a few rocks or wooden spacers in the bottom bin keeps the bins from getting stuck together and permits further aeration.

making your home self-sufficient

The next step is to place the bin with the drilled holes inside the other bin. Placing a layer of peat, newspaper scraps, and wet cardboard makes a nice, healthy base for the worms by keeping their skin moist. Each day, add your scraps by burying them amongst this bedding. Ensure you rotate the location so that each day you are burying the scraps in a new area. Additionally, cutting up large pieces into smaller chunks will help them to break down quicker.

As the worms process food, they will produce castings (aka droppings), which will collect in the bottom of the bin. The castings are similar to dark coffee grinds in appearance and packed with nutrients in a form that can easily be taken up by plants. This concentrated fertilizer will help you to grow healthy, productive plants at least as well, if not better than, with chemical fertilizers and without all the negative drawbacks.

Final Thoughts On Making Your Home Self-Sufficient

With a little effort, you can make your home self-sufficient by developing self-sustaining systems for power, water, heat and composting. The investment you make in making your home self-sufficient will not only pay off in a disaster scenario, but also in the more likely event of a power grid failure and through savings in energy costs.

The best part about developing a self-sufficient system for your home is that once you have the knowledge and expertise in building such systems, you will always have it. This could turn out to be a life-saving skill should you find yourself in a bug-out or INCH (I’m Never Coming Home) scenario, and you will be better equipped than most to rebuild or start over in the aftermath.

Your Thoughts

Have you taken steps towards making your home self-sufficient? If so, what obstacles did you face, i.e. land, financial, etc., that made self-sufficiency a challenge?

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