You hear a great deal of talk in the survival community about bugging out. Everybody brags about their bug-out locations, bug-out vehicles, and bug-out bags. However, the chances you will need to leave your home in a SHTF scenario are slim. In all reality, most survival scenarios would play out with you bugging in. This means you lock down your property with all the supplies needed until the situation passes. In order for this to work, you must be able to maintain your home before and during a survival scenario. In this article, we will cover different ways to prepare your home for a SHTF scenario and how to maintain your home while you are in the midst of the scenario.
The best chance you have of keeping your home in good order during a survival scenario is to do the needed maintenance prior to the scenario. This can be expensive and time consuming, but it is absolutely needed. You must remember that it’s likely you will not be able to hire anybody for repairs, purchase outside resources, or possibly even go outside once the SHTF. It is vital that you spend time every month ensuring that the primary functions of your home are in good order.
For the outside of your home, the roof is a good place to start. A leaky roof can cause massive damage along with black mold that could affect your health. Look over your roof for shingles that are cracked or pitted, then replace the ones that need it. If you have any major leaks coming through your ceiling, pull off that section of plywood and replace it, the tar paper, and the shingles. You should also replace the drywall that was damaged.
Gutters and downspouts are another part of the house that should be inspected. If they are clogged or have major leaks, make sure you clean or repair them. Malfunctioning gutters and downspouts can cause water to back up onto the roof or to pool at the foundation of your home. Siding should be tight enough that wind and water can not get through. An important function of the home would be the insulation. If all your walls and attic don’t have thick insulation, make sure you take the time to correct that. This can make a huge difference if you have no electricity in the winter.
You should ensure that appliances like freezers, heaters, air conditioning, and water heaters are in good shape. Also, have a professional check out your plumbing and electrical systems to verify that you do not need any work done. Doors and windows should be checked to ensure no air is coming through gaps. Any problematic windows and doors should be repaired or replaced. I suggest you add additional insulation to a designated fallback room. This is a room in the house that is protected from storms, easy to defend, and would be comfortable to stay in for several days. The door on this room should keep cold air out and warm air in. Finally, stock up on common construction materials like two-by-fours, particle board, PVC piping, nails, and screws.
Security Before the SHTF
There are certain security measures that you should take with your home before things ever start to go south. These are tasks that require outside resources or take a long time to complete. A good example would be replacing wooden doors with steel doors. Add locks if needed and replace faulty ones. Adding a security system is smart in any circumstances. The security system should have an alert system to contact authorities, but the audible alarm is more important. This alerts you to any intruders that open doors or windows. You can also use motion detectors for likely points of entry, or install cameras or motions sensors on the outside of your home.
I mentioned a designated fallback room before. You want to have added security for this room. Consider it a kind of “safe room.” If you are going to install steel doors on any of the interior doorways, this would be the room. You might also install bars on the inside of the windows for added security. If you have cameras, it would be smart to put the monitors in this room. You also want to install your gun safe in this room for obvious reasons. Outside of this room, get creative to find ways to secure valuables, food, water, and survival gear. This could be a lock on a secured closet or one that you add to your freezer or pantry.
Preps for Utilities and Food
When I talk about prepping utilities and food, I am not talking about storing food and water. While this is a good idea, I’m referring to putting systems in place to ensure you have a constant supply of food, water, and electricity after the SHTF. For example, you could stock up on hundreds of batteries. However, a generator is a better way to provide electricity to your home. An even better option would be to install solar, wind, or water systems that will generate electricity without any fuel. This could be the only way to have ongoing power after the grid shuts down.
For water, a well is an ideal option. Most people must hire an expert to find the right spot for a well and dig it, so it has to be done in advance. Once the well is dug, you should have a constant supply of clean water. You can also dig a pond on the property to collect rainwater. It needs to be purified before you can drink it, but it is another option. Rainwater collection systems on your roof or separate from your home are smart. These collect rainwater and use gutter systems to pour it into storage barrels. For food, stock a pond with fish or have game for hunting. Start a garden or grow some of your food indoors. In many survival scenarios, you will be able to leave the house as long as you stay safely on your property.
Maintenance When the SHTF
When things are starting to fall apart and people are running for the hills, there are still ways to perform maintenance on your home. One of the first things that I suggest you do is lock down your property. This means bringing resources inside, doing a quick inventory, and boarding up windows. You may be thinking “this won’t be a hurricane,” and you would be right. However, try to think of any SHTF scenario in which boards over the windows wouldn’t be a good idea. They prevent looters from seeing inside, prevent people from entering through windows, help with high winds, keep rain and cold out if windows are broken, and can even help with chemical or radioactive gasses. If it makes you feel better, cut peepholes for yourself, but get the boards up.
If something happens that leaves a broken window, you can also use duct tape to hold the pieces together. Any major issues like a hole in the roof or siding will need to be repaired from both the inside and out. Put one person on guard with a firearm to keep watch and protect anybody that is exposed. Then do as much as you can from inside. Drywall, insulation, and two-by-fours can typically be repaired or replaced from inside. Pre-make panels of roofing or siding so all you need to do is hammer it into place once it’s outside. You can make outdoor repairs like this in as little as a few minutes if your materials are prepped. This leaves you with minimal exposure to the elements or intruders. You may need to adjust your attire depending on the conditions you are dealing with.
If you have good security in place and looters visit your home, it’s likely you’ll have some repairs to do. Most of this can be done from inside. If door locks are damaged, you can always use two-by-fours to make a bar lock. Just use two small pieces to make ‘L’ shaped holsters for your bar and nail them to both sides of the door frame. Then place a longer two-by-four in place across the door so nobody can enter. You can even use a chair under the doorknob for a temporary solution.
If an outdoor camera or motion sensor is disabled, that gets a little more difficult. The best solution is to prioritize your camera or sensor locations then move the broken one to the least important spot. You can also use a working camera or sensor and change the direction in which it points to cover the area of the broken one. This is the easiest and quickest solution, but might leave a gap in your security. If a security system is disabled, they likely just cut the phone lines. In this scenario, the phone lines are not nearly as important as the alarm.
If interior security systems are broken, use old fashioned trip lines as a replacement. Just run wire or fishing line across doors and windows with a noisemaker attached to them. This could be bells, a can with rocks in it, an air horn, or a firecracker. If a freezer has a broken lock, you can wrap a ratchet strap around it and cinch it down tight. This will not keep an intruder out, but it may slow them down enough that they move on or you can get to the room to defend it.
Repairing Utilities After the SHTF
Between storms, earthquakes, and looters, there are several scenarios in which your utility systems could be damaged. Even normal wear and tear can be an issue. For electrical systems such as wind, solar, water, or generators, I suggest you bring the damaged elements inside to attempt repair and then reinstall them afterwards. This will keep the time you are exposed outdoors to a bare minimum. The simpler your system is, the easier it is to repair. Keep that in mind when you initially install it.
Water systems are not quite so easy. Fixing a water pump in a well without professional equipment can be tough. Perhaps a better option is to rig up a hand pump. With some additional PVC pipe and a few two-by-fours, you can rig a system that will draw water from the well to your home. Otherwise, somebody must go outside every few days for water. As usual, somebody standing guard is a must.
The best way to keep the SHTF maintenance on your home to a minimum is to constantly keep it in great shape. Take the time to periodically look over everything then make repairs and improvements as needed. However, not everybody will have their home ready when the time comes. If you must make repairs during a SHTF scenario, do as much as you can safely indoors. Get creative and find ways to shorten the time you will spend exposed outdoors. When you do have to go outdoors, always have an armed guard on watch to keep protected. Move quickly and consider these repairs a band-aid, not a permanent solution. Most survival scenarios only last a few days to a few weeks, so you can make permanent repairs later. If you are prepared in advance and careful about repairs, you can rely on the home to be a wonderful primary shelter.
This article was originally published in the Survival Dispatch Insider Volume 1 Issue 2.