Monday, April 9, 2007

The Four Essientials for Survival

The Four Essientials for Survival

Everyone’s heard of the Ten Commandments and numbered lists of rules and principles, like the four spiritual laws.

There are also four essentials in every survival situation. We ignore these at our peril. They are the four S’s of survival: Shelter, Sustenance, Sanitation, and Security. The order of priority will be dictated by circumstances: location, weather, resources and time of day.


“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if he has enough money to pay the bills?” (Luke 14:28, Living Bible)

Shelter is a primary need – humans require shelter. Jesus mentions shelter in the list of things people supply Christians during the Tribulation (Matthew 25:35-36). We were not designed to live out in the open in the elements. We can die in a few hours of extreme hot or cold. People can live in caves, under trees, in tents, on boats and buildings. Materials for shelters include sod, earth, wood, stone, skins, plastic, steel and even ice. There are four basic forms of shelter: expedient, temporary, semi-permanent and permanent. We try to always have resources for all four.

Expedient shelter is made of whatever is available during an unexpected crisis – brush, cave, tree, ditch, tarp, car, pickup, or cardboard box. For preparation one should have a street people outfit or survival suit on hand at all times (for example in pickup truck) which includes large plastic bags, a tarp and cord or wire. The plastic bags can be used for clothing insulation or to add to an expedient shelter. An 8 ft. by 8 ft. plastic or tarp is good stored under the seat and only costs $2 to $5.

For temporary shelter we usually have at least two tents – a fairly large five-man dome and a lightweight backpack three-man. Tents are useful and fun for a short time but are not secure from wild dogs, animals or people.

For semi-permanent shelter we have the slide in cab-over pickup camper, a motor home or a camper trailer. The slide-in camper is excellent for several reasons. First, they are the smallest least expensive of the ridge portable houses. Second, they are not traceable – most states do not require registration and title, so they can’t be tracked easily.

And finally for permanent shelter we have a small rural retreat – passive solar heated underground home on 6½ acres with well, pond, fencing, etc. and a modest city home.

When preparing to work as a Christian missionary I worked for a summer as a carpenter’s apprentice to learn to build houses. I had gone on two summer youth group mission trips and observed missionaries in Mexico. If you want to go this route make sure the company build homes, not commercial buildings, additions or decks. Because of learning construction we have built our own homes several times and saved several hundred thousand dollars and saved twenty to thirty years trapped in a debt driven lifestyle. We even built our own trusses for a garage. We have experience making sheds for our animals, an outhouse, and could make a temporary shelter because we always have a good knife and the skills to use them correctly.

An ideal approach is to begin with tents for temporary or even nomadic shelter. After obtaining some rural land, put in a pond, build an outhouse and develop the skills of fishing and processing animals into food, with a few acres in corn, turnips and other vegetable crops. Then you can concentrate on permanent shelter. You can get free plans for several different cabins from the Extension Service. Most land-grant colleges provide the service. In a survival situation food is more important than permanent housing. First plant your crops, buy your animals, then build your cabin. “Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” (Proverbs 24:27)

To develop a retreat you could begin with an 8 ft. by 12 ft. utility building to store tools and materials then a 16 ft. by 20 ft. or 20 ft. by 24 ft. garage/storage shed to be converted to a cabin. We found a 12 ft. X 16 ft. utility building for $1200 in 2001 with free delivery in our area. Note always get 2 inch X 6 inch treated floor joists and at least 5/8 inch flooring. Also 16 inch on center wall studs and 4 ft. X 8 ft. siding add strength. This type of building is not taxed or registered in our area. Check with your county building codes department before starting or even planning construction. If you decide to build it yourself, prefabricate the walls and trusses where you have electric or some people use electric generators or attachments to a car or truck engine. For a garage pour a concrete slab and assemble the prefab building within a few days. Remember the basics: orient the building with a long wall facing south and put any large windows and doors in the south wall. If you want to stay off the government lists, plan to have solar electric and a compost toilet. In our area the electric company will not connect a meter without a health department sewer or septic permit. Paint the outside and get the final inspection for the garage before converting the garage to a cabin. Then install any interior electric wires, insulation and interior paneling. Remember DC solar/battery uses stranded wire and you only want the minimum – a light in each room, 12 volt TV, radio and water-pump. For water in our area we bore shallow 4 ft. by 40 ft. wells and the water table is usually within 15 ft., which is OK for a 12-volt pump. We lived in Hawaii for five years and used rainwater drained from the roof to an above ground swimming pool. Have the well or water storage close to the house on one side and put your septic or gray water drain on the other side of the building. We plan to use a composting toilet in our next cabin. An important note on domes, yurts etc. – a friend built a kit Geodesic Dome based on the cost per cubic foot. He was very disappointed because the usable floor space was less than straight walls and it leaked because of all the roof joints. My advice is, stay with standard shapes and materials at least until you are experienced and have lots of time and money to waste.

For a wilderness escape destination plan a camping trip to a State or National Park within one tank of gas in your car or pickup. Do a reconnaissance. In our area of South Carolina the Appalachian Trail or a dozen State and National Parks offer a wide choice of locations and environments. I prefer low country or foothills, small lakes and rivers, not mountains. If you camp in the mountains or desert be very careful to locate your camp on high ground because valleys and dry riverbeds can flood from rain many miles away. Inventory natural resources like water, fish, fauna and flora. Look for caves and meadows, large trees, food trees and natural springs. Follow small creeks upstream. Find good camping spots off the major trails. Look for places to stash stuff. If you have animals take a small pack animal: goat, lama, donkey or horse. Check the laws on carrying a pistol or shotgun. Beware of being close to large lakes, Interstate Highways, oceans and railroad tracks to avoid pirates and marauders.

On skills, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are standard ways of doing things. The worst messes with building I’ve seen were done by intelligent but ignorant, inexperienced people who were too arrogant to learn the skills and standards from trades-people. We all start out ignorant on everything. Someone taught you to urinate in a toilet, to tie your shoelaces and do whatever you do. Save time, frustration and money by seeking the best advice. Don’t waste time trying to reinvent the wheel.


Wild Bill said...

Sounds kinda like what I have at the farm..

I've got 20 acres with a pool and a well on it to supply the water on it..

I've got a 14X65 house trailer at the front, closest to the road, and a 40X40 pole barn about the middle on the north side, and an old school bus($300) down behind the pool in the back..

I'm in the process of cleanin out my barn and makin it into a place I can get in and out of easier than the trailer.. I get around on an electric(24V) scooter and crutches and the crutches are a pain in the ass to get around on .. I can keep my 5000 watt generator and my scooter and my garden tractor in there out of the rain and not haul it back and forth between the farm and the house in town every time I go out there.. And I'm gonna have a bed to lay down and rest after I've been workin in the garden right in front of the barn and store my extra 12V batteries in there too..

I've got a queen size bed and 2 hide-a-bed couches in the trailer to give sleepin space there and 2 half beds in the bus.. I've also got foldin cots for some of the kids too.. So I have plenty of sleepin quarters.. Plus I have a 10X10 screen tent for those hot summer nites that its too hot to sleep inside and there might come a little breeze in the tent or the skeeters are bad at the time.. There is a small Corp of Engineers lake a few hundred yards behind my place, so the bugs can get kinda thick sometimes..

I've got 2 of those bedside toilets that I can use for a group of people.. These are the kind you use a plastic bag in and change it when needed.. But I just use a 5 gallon bucket under it myself..

I got a few cases of sauces and marinades stored out there and a few canned goods and plenty of wildlife I live off of for a while.. I thank my renters I had depleted my fish in the pool but I still have the C o E lake not far behind me that has plenty of large cat and bass..

My trouble is gettin other folks to come and help with gettin it all set up !! Nobody wants to invest the time, but are wantin to come join me when the SHTF ..

Glad to see you got you a blog goin here, buddy.. When you get it goin good and I see what you are gonna have here, I'll get you in my blogroll..

Almtnman said...

Wild Bill, it sounds like you have a good setup there and it would work out for you in case things get bad.

Wild Bill said...

Whether it gets WORSE or not, I still like goin out there now with the way it is here in town.. Shame I caint sell this place in town so I could just go ahead and move out there..

Here in town its noisy and too much like a damned fish bowl !! Plus my dog needs a big place to run around at.. Miss Minnie Pearl loves it out at the farm as much as I do..

I usually lease it but have taken it back this year.. I use the money from the lease to help pay my property txes so I'm havin to scrape up the money out of my pocket this year.. I paid off the biggest part this month and should have the smaller part paid next month..

Almtnman said...

At least you have a place out in the country to go to. I bought this place back in 1998 and built a new house on it to retire to. Finally got retired back last year so now enjoying being way out, but really not that far out. I'm out enough and secluded enough that I can come and go without aanyone knowing when I came or went. It's nice nd quite with a big garden spot with some good land for a garden. Got a pond on one side and we pump water out of it on the garden when it needs watering. We use T tape irrigation lines run on each row and the water drips on the row and keeps it soaked. Doing it that way is kind of expensive with the gas as high as it is running the gasoline pump, but it pays off with about 4 to 5 times as many vegetables than if we didn't irrigate. Anyway, it's nice and quite and our 3 dogs lets us know if anyone is driving down the driveway. We enjoy this life style and enjoy the peace and quite.

Papa Ray said...

Sounds like you guys got what I hope to have soon.

I'm been getting by after selling my place (cause the town built up around me) by staying at the place I bought my daughter some years back.

Saving my money as I can, I think I can get a nice place closer to water and trees than the flatlands of West Texas.

All of my stuff is currently underground. Well hidden with three different hidden accesses.

Most of it was here from the previous owner, all I had to do was modify and hide things better.

Have to do the same, even better when we move. But I think I have better plans now and know the problems with underground storage and living quarters.

I just hope we don't get stopped and searched when we move, or I might be spending the next several years in jail.

Papa Ray

Almtnman said...

Papa Ray, I'd like to know a little more about the underground storage and living quarters. Could you brief us on that some?

Wild Bill said...

Underground is just almost impossible for me.. Just a few feet below the surface is hard limestone and if I did manage to bust a hole in it, I would have to deal with the water that travels on the top of that limestome..

Only way I could get close to bein underground is to start at the top of the ground and then fill in around whatever I built..

I thought about puttin my bus down in the ground a few feet and tryin to put a drainage pipe under it to keep the water out and pilin dirt up around the part that was above ground, but thats a lot of work and expense that I just caint do..

But never can tell what I may be able to come up with or figger a way around the problem..

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